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Snow 'astonished' by changes in Shanghai
Updated: 2005-10-12 19:20

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said he was "astonished" by Shanghai's economic transformation Wednesday as he began a visit expected to focus on China's currency policies and its huge and growing trade surplus with the United States.

Snow 'astonished' by changes in Shanghai
U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow speaks to journalists at Shanghai Stock Exchange Wednesday Oct. 12, 2005 in Shanghai, China. Snow toured the financial center of Shanghai on Wednesday as he embarked on a visit expected to focus on China's currency policies and its huge and growing trade surplus with the United States. [AP]

Speaking above the trading floor of this city's stock exchange, Snow said he was stunned by Shanghai's dramatic transformation from a crumbling relic of central planning into a modern commercial hub.

"I'm astonished every time I come to see how much has happened since the last time I came," Snow said. Compared with 10 years ago, "the changes are nothing short of breathtaking."

Yet Snow urged China to move even faster in pushing ahead with reforms of its nascent capital markets, which still lag behind the rest of the booming economy. China allows only limited foreign exchange trading, its bond and other financial products markets are in their infancy, and most companies choose to list shares not on domestic bourses but in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

"It's clear the potential of the financial sector to play a larger role in the economy is enormous," Snow said, adding that he would continue to press for greater openness for foreign companies — and for more progress toward a more flexible, market-driven exchange rate.

"It's in China's interest to continue down this path," said Snow, who is leading a delegation in Beijing, backed by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. They plan to meet with Chinese officials Oct. 16-17 in Beijing for the U.S.-China Joint Economic Commission, which serves as a regular forum for U.S. and Chinese officials to discuss economic issues.

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