【英语中国】中国政府有多重视上海自贸区?

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2013-10-8 09:50

小艾摘要: Two decades ago, when Deng Xiaoping wanted to send a message to the world that China was still open for business, he dropped by Shanghai as part of his barnstorming 'Southern Tour.' That trip has gone ...
Two decades ago, when Deng Xiaoping wanted to send a message to the world that China was still open for business, he dropped by Shanghai as part of his barnstorming 'Southern Tour.'

That trip has gone down in Communist Party history as a turning point in China's modern economic fortunes. It was part of Mr. Deng's strategy to outflank his conservative rivals in Beijing, who had seized control after the military onslaught against the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. And it offered high-level endorsement of Shanghai's cherished goal to restore its lost glory as the financial capital of East Asia. 'It will take many years, but we should act now,' Mr. Deng was quoted as saying.

By showing up in Shanghai, Mr. Deng sent an unambiguous--and very personal--message that economic change was back on the agenda.

The historical parallels were clear to everybody at last month's ceremony to launch a much-touted Shanghai free-trade zone. Liberal overhauls in China have been on hold for a decade, stymied by vested interests in the central bureaucracy, local governments and state monopolies. And so the zone has stirred hopes that the new leadership intends to complete Mr. Deng's unfinished reform agenda from the 1990s.

Yet one VIP was missing at the launch party: the main sponsor of the zone itself, Premier Li Keqiang.

Mr. Li's no-show has raised questions about whether economic reformers in China really are back in charge again.

Instead of flying down himself, Mr. Li sent his commerce minister--one of the least powerful members of his cabinet--a move that suggested to some that the zone had been effectively demoted or that it was a focus of top-level disagreement.

The symbolism matters a great deal because the outlook for the world's second-largest economy hangs partly on the free-trade zone's success. And its opening comes just before a key Communist Party meeting in November that will set out the government's economic agenda for the next 10 years.

The zone covers just 11 square miles, but it has been heavily advertised as an incubator for financial innovations that will eventually spill over to the entire country. Among the most important are interest rate liberalization and easier cross-border capital flows. Those overhauls, in turn, are meant to engender broader changes to get credit flowing to where it is most needed--small and medium-size enterprises that drive the consumer economy in industries from logistics to health care. That is a crucial part of an overhaul aimed at rebalancing lopsided growth fueled by investments and exports.

There have been other troubling signals, too. Officials have so far failed to publish detailed guidelines on the zone's operations.

That has made it hard for investors to figure out whether it is the game-changer they had been led to expect, or represents more modest change-or nothing at all.

Much was made of the idea that the zone would flip on its head the traditional Chinese approach to foreign investment, in which every area of business activity is prohibited unless it is explicitly allowed. Within the zone, everything is permitted unless it is explicitly forbidden--a so-called negative list approach. Yet that list includes hundreds of no-go areas, though it may be revised next year.

'A lot of people are scratching their heads and saying: 'What does all this mean?'' says Frederic Cho, special adviser for Asia corporate finance at Sweden's Handelsbanken Capital Markets, who worked in Shanghai in the 1990s.

The zone certainly has prominent boosters. Hu Shuli, the editor in chief of Caixin Media, one of China's most respected independent media groups, wrote that the zone 'very probably' marks the third wave of reform after the creation of Special Economic Zones for foreign investment in the 1980s, and China's entry to the World Trade Organization at the turn of this century.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, writing in the New York Times, cited the zone as evidence that prospects for reform in China 'are better than at any point since the 1990s.'

Yet there is an odd dissonance between all the talk about the zone, and the absence of movement on the ground. Just about the only excitement generated so far has been in Hong Kong-listed companies that include the word 'Shanghai' in their names. The stock prices of several have soared on vague expectations that the zone will bring in business.

Mr. Deng's visit to Shanghai, by contrast, triggered an instant stampede of businesses to the city. In the absence of office space, multinational corporations squeezed into hotel suites. Morgan Stanley (MS) found a home in the Shanghai Center--one of the few modern office blocks in town--only by building an extension that obliterated the tennis courts.

The city embarked on a manic makeover. At one point, as many as one in five construction cranes in the world were operating in Shanghai.

This time around, American businesses seem largely unimpressed: so far, Citigroup Inc. (C) is the only American bank to sign-up for a presence in the zone.

'Operating specifics remain scarce,' the U.S.-China Business Council, a voice for many of America's largest companies, said in a recent letter to its members. The zone's attractiveness 'remains subject to additional policy decisions yet to be finalized,' it added.

Mr. Deng was a master political tactician and used those skills to outfox conservatives opposed to change. He took a famously cautious step-by-step approach to economic change--'crossing the river by feeling the stones'--but wasn't afraid to be decisive when it mattered. And he excelled at selling his vision to his own people and the world.

On all those counts, it is too early to say whether China's new leaders have Mr. Deng's political acumen, and whether they can pull off far-reaching change.

'I'm totally convinced that Li Keqiang is eager to get things going,' says Mr. Cho. 'But there's a lot of resistance.'

20年前,当邓小平想要向世界传达中国依然是个开放市场的信息时,他将上海作为“南巡”讲话的其中一站。

那次旅程被作为中国现代经济命运的转折点被载入了中共史册。这是邓小平旨在战胜北京保守派对手的策略之一,1989年天安门事件后保守派获得了控制权。那次旅程也彰显出高层对上海所珍视的一个目标的认可,那就是重拾已失去的作为东亚金融中心的荣耀。据报道,邓小平当时说,这将耗时数年,但我们现在就应该采取行动了。

Reuters这两张照片比较了1987年和2013年时的浦东金融区。下图中矗立着浦东金融区内在建的上海中心大厦。通过在上海露面,邓小平传达出了一条清楚的、且非常个人化的信息,那就是经济改革被重新提上议程。

上个月上海自由贸易区启动仪式显然也有类似的历史意义。在中国,市场化改革已经被拖延了10年,主要是受到中央机构、地方政府和国有垄断企业中的既得利益者阻拦。因此上海自贸区的成立不禁让人预期,新领导层打算完成上世纪90年代邓小平未完成的改革议程。

然而有一位重要人物缺席了这一启动仪式——上海自贸区的主要支持者之一、中国总理李克强。

李克强的缺席引发了有关中国经济改革者是否真的重新掌权的疑问。

李克强委派商务部长(他的班底权力最小的成员之一)参加了此次活动,一些人认为此举说明上海自贸区的地位被降低了,或者该自贸区已成为高层分歧的焦点。

此举的象征意义非常重要,因为中国这个全球第二大经济体的前景在一定程度上取决于上海自贸区的成功。而且该自贸区的启动正值中共一个关键会议即将于11月召开之际,这次会议将发布政府未来10年的经济议程。

上海自贸区占地仅11平方英里(合28平方公里),但被大肆宣传为金融创新的孵化器,其影响最终将延伸至全国。对该自贸区来说,最重要的问题包括实现利率市场化以及使跨境资本流动更加便捷。这些改革必然会引发更大范围的改革,使信贷流向最需要的领域(在物流和保健等领域中推动消费经济发展的中小企业)。这是一场大规模改革的关键部分,这场改革旨在让依赖投资和出口推动的经济增长实现再平衡

还有一些令人担忧的迹象。中国官员迄今尚未就上海自贸区的运行发布详细的指导方针。

这令投资者难以弄清该自贸区是否会像他们预期的那样成为局势改变者,或者呈现更温和的改革,抑或根本不会有任何改革。

人们在很大程度上认为,自贸区将会完全颠覆中国对待外国投资的传统方式,即除了明确允许的情况之外的所有领域商业活动都被禁止。在自贸区内,除了明确禁止以外的所有活动都是允许的——即所谓的负面清单的办法。然而这个清单包括了成百上千的禁止领域,不过明年可能被修订。

瑞典市场调查公司Handelsbanken Capital Markets的亚洲公司理财特别顾问Frederic Cho说,很多人都抓着脑袋说,这一切到底是什么意思?他上世纪90年代曾经在上海工作。

自贸区当然有不少知名的支持者。中国最受尊重的独立媒体集团之一财新传媒(Caixin Media)的总编胡舒立写道,自贸区“很可能”标志着第三次改革浪潮,此前的两次是80年代为外国投资设立经济特区,以及中国在世纪之交时加入世界贸易组织(World Trade Organization)。

前美国财长鲍尔森(Henry Paulson)在《纽约时报》(New York Times)上撰文,说自贸区证明了中国改革前景比90年代以来的任何时候都要好。

然而,在针对自贸区展开各种讨论的同时,却又缺乏实实在在的行动,这之间让人感到有种奇怪的不协调。迄今为止,几乎唯一激起人们兴奋的只是在香港上市、名称中带有“上海”的公司。有几家这种公司的股价飙升,因为人们笼统地预期自贸区将会为这些公司带来业务。

相比之下,邓小平视察上海马上就引发了企业蜂涌进入这个城市。由于缺乏办公空间,跨国公司纷纷挤在酒店套房里。摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)在上海商城找到了一个位置,但只能修建一个延伸建筑,占据了原先的网球场。上海商城是当时上海市内的少数现代化办公区之一。

上海进行了狂热的大改造。曾经一度,全世界每五台建筑起重机就有一台在上海运行。

这一次,美国企业似乎基本上无动于衷:到目前为止,花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)是唯一一家申请在自贸区内经营的美资银行。

代表众多美国最大企业的美中贸易全国委员会(U.S.-China Business Counsil)在不久前给成员的一封信中说,运营细节仍然很少。信中还说,自贸区的吸引力仍然取决于尚未最终成型的进一步政策决定。

邓小平是一位政治战术大师,并运用这些战术巧妙地战胜了反对改革的保守派。他采取了以谨慎闻名的渐进方法来实施经济改革——“摸着石头过河”——但在重大时刻也并不怯于决断。他还极其擅长让中国民众和全世界接受他的观点。

综上所述,现在还为时过早,难以判断中国新一届领导层是否有着与邓小平同样的政治敏锐,以及他们能否实施影响深远的改革。

Cho说,我完全相信,李克强急切地想让事情发展下去,但阻力很大。

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    • avatar 花火的城 1

      在干嘛?@blue