Soros calls for strength

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2001, 12:00am

Enhancing the financial sector is China's biggest challenge before its admission to the World Trade Organisation, according to billionaire financier George Soros.

'The real danger is in the financial area because the financial institutions are not strong enough right now to withstand opening,' said Mr Soros at the Foreign Correspondents' Club last night.

'That is the biggest problem for China.'

Foreign competition in the sector could lead to existing institutions collapsing, having been previously protected by trade barriers.

'Financial institutions become extremely vulnerable in an open system,' Mr Soros said.

'Since the financial system has to be opened up in five years [under the WTO agreement] they don't have much time.'

Mr Soros - who has set up foundations around the world to promote his idea of an open society - said he would not restart such a foundation in China which closed in 1989.

He argued that internal support was necessary for an open society and could not be imposed from outside.

Despite this Mr Soros felt there had been progress towards an open society in China such as in commercial law but said that there was an 'awful long way to go'.