Chengdu Seeks Hong Kong Cooperation in Finance and Culture

CHENGDU, China, Aug. 30, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The city of Chengdu plans to draw on a thousand years of financial acumen to boost economic cooperation with Hong Kong, according to municipal officials visiting the Special Administrative Region for a weeklong promotional visit.

Many events of "Sichuan-Hong Kong-Macau Cooperation Week" were held this week. These events aimed to seek and to strengthen the cooperation in the field of finance and culture with Hong Kong. The goal is to comprehensively construct National Central City that could reflect the concept of new development. The activities also themed to promote Chengdu in building financial center of western China and the national center of culture and creativity.

Officials and business people from both Chengdu and Hong Kong addressed the events. James Lau, Hong Kong's Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, observed that Chengdu was the most important financial hub in western China.

Addressing delegates at the "Building a National Finance Centre in Western China" event at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong on 22 August, Lau noted that of the 20 Sichuan-based companies listed in Hong Kong, 16 were from Chengdu, adding that Hong Kong banks and other businesses had identified the Sichuan provincial capital as a gateway to the western Chinese market.

Fan Ruiping, a member of the Standing Committee of the Sichuan Provincial Communist Party Committee and secretary of the Chengdu Municipal Party Committee, said Chengdu had a significant financial heritage. In 1023, he said, the city had issued banknotes made from the bark of local mulberry trees, 500 years before paper currency first circulated in Europe.

The event showcased Chengdu's five-pronged development plan, which focuses on economics, finance, technology, culture and innovation. It was noted that 278 of the Fortune 500 companies are represented in Chengdu and the city played host to 16 foreign financial institutions -- including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase -- and 24 international insurers.

Delegates were told that while Chengdu would continue to support its "pillar industries," including electronics, vehicles, energy, transport and aerospace, the city would also seek rapid growth in key emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, additive industries and predictive medicine.

Hong Kong cooperation

Chengdu's key location as a starting point of the historic Southern Silk Road -- connecting Sichuan and Yunnan provinces with Myanmar, India and Central Asia -- was seen an opportunity for Hong Kong investment.

Speakers at the event noted Chengdu's long economic relationship with Hong Kong. "Hong Kong is the largest source of overseas capital in Chengdu," Fan said. "We need the support of a strong financial centre."

Liang Qizhou, Director of the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Finance said the city's financial sector would account for 13% of value-added gross domestic product by 2022, a proportion exceeded only by the 15% in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Liang said the city planned to focus on three areas: rural finance, high-technology finance and consumer finance. Investments in financial technology, or fintech, would be boosted by a RMB100 billion entrepreneurial fund.

The city is also keen to attract accounting, law and credit rating agencies from Hong Kong to build a cross-border financial services platform.

One of the city's cornerstone projects is the Chengdu Financial City, a three-phase development built on 5 square kilometres intended to cement its status as a regional financial centre. Fang Zhao, Chairman of Chengdu Financial Holding Group and Chengdu Financial City, says the project has already attracted about 3,000 companies.

"Our goal is to meet the needs of financial sector, not to be a real estate company," Fang said. "We're a smart financial city, with cloud computing capability, a financial intelligence unit, a talent management plan in an environmentally friendly development."

Cultural assets

Chengdu and Hong Kong have strong cultural and social ties as well as economic links. An event at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre on 24 August promoted Chengdu as an important cultural destination in China popular with Hong Kong visitors.

The Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu leisure and nightlife area -- established in collaboration with the developers of its famous Hong Kong namesake -- is seen as both "a symbol of friendship and cultural interchange", attendees at "Tianfu Chengdu: The Future of Culture and Creativity" were told.

Chengdu has had a cosmopolitan attitude ever since Marco Polo visited in the 13th century. Seven hundred years later, the celebrated Chinese film director Zhang Yimou described Chengdu as "the city you never want to leave."

Fan portrayed Chengdu as "an open city since ancient times, with a culture of tolerance," adding that Chengduers, as the inhabitants are known, possessed the "gene of innovation and creativity".

Bernard Chan, Hong Kong's Deputy Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, noted that Chengdu was already an established destination for Hong Kong visitors thanks to its world-famous spicy food and nearby panda conservation area.

Mu Tao, Deputy Director of Publicity, CPC Chengdu Municipal Committee, said the city's rich culture reflected its 4,500 years of history, adding that Chengdu was already celebrated as a city of music and poetry as well as food.

In the future, Chengdu would become China's anime and software capital as well as advertisement creativity center. More than 200 museums would be developed, Mu added.

Duoyangnamu, Director of the Chengdu Municipal Tourism Administration, highlighted the Chengdu region's existing attractions, such as the picturesque Mount Qingcheng and Xiling Snow Mountain as well as the area's Buddhist heritage.

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