SHANGHAI – On the coastal reaches southeast of Shanghai, China’s ambitions to transform its most populous and affluent city into a global financial hub are beginning to take shape on a ring-shaped city reclaimed from the sea.
Beijing is expected to loosen its tight grip on capital flows and the internet within the so-called Lingang free trade zone, a special area to become an advanced industries hub. Lingang was incorporated into the seven-year-old Shanghai free trade zone in 2019.
Apart from lower corporate income taxes and duty-free customs zones, Lingang will allow unfettered access to Google and Twitter and easier international money transfers, freedoms not allowed in mainland China that Beijing hopes will spur more foreign investment into its commercial and financial capital.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan not only aims for Shanghai to rival New York and London as a global financial hub, it also wants to wrest business away from them, ambitions that have everything to do with Hong Kong’s social and political malaise and the rising geostrategic headwinds now facing the country.