Xiamen eyes hub role in currency settlement
Denise Tsang in Zhangzhou
Xiamen, a major city in Fujian province, is seeking to forge closer financial ties with Taiwan by applying to be the mainland's first and only settlement centre for the official currencies in the two markets, according to Xiamen vice-mayor Ding Guoyan.
As a core part of closer cross-strait co-operation in finance and trade, the coastal mainland city was seeking the State Council's approval to set up the planned settlement centre, a short cut to existing fund flows from Taiwan into Xiamen through Hong Kong, he said.
'We are fighting for this,' Mr Ding said yesterday of the plan. 'We are also in talks with Taiwan and Hong Kong about intensified co-operation in logistics, services and financial areas.'
A race to entice more Taiwanese investments was sparked last month when the State Council promulgated a policy to create a special economic belt in the west of the Taiwan Strait by 2012-20. The special zone spanning southeastern Fujian aims to buoy business, financial and cultural exchanges as well as human relationships across the strait.
In another move to cash in on burgeoning trade ties across the straits, China Merchants Holdings (International) plans to invest in a 15 billion yuan (HK$17.01 billion) port development in Zhangzhou, Fujian, according to top city officials.
The Hong Kong-listed port operator was expected to take an unspecified stake in the planned project, which involved constructing as many as 10 berths in the fourth phase of the Zhangzhou port zone, said Liu Keqing, the Communist Party secretary of Zhangzhou.
Liu Wei, China Merchants Zhangzhou Development Zone deputy general manager, said China Merchants was in talks with its parent firm about the potential investment in the fourth phase. At present, it is a joint venture between the parent company and the local government's investment arms.
The new berths would handle bulk cargo such as logs, steel and agricultural products exported largely to Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Mr Liu Wei added.
He said 'parts' of the new berths would be ready for operation in 2012. That year is the State Council's medium-term target for the Straits West region to become a national leader in scientific innovation with higher living standards and specialising in direct links with Taiwan.
Additional reporting by Charlotte So