The chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) said yesterday he was optimistic about the mainland economy and its new Prime Minister Zhu Rongji. Richard Grasso arrived in Beijing after visiting the Shanghai exchange on Wednesday and met senior officials, including President Jiang Zemin and Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng. Mr Grasso will attend a meeting of the NYSE Asia-Pacific advisory committee in Beijing on Friday. 'I have a very positive view of Zhu,' he said. 'The market view is that the premier is attuned to the discipline of economic competition, to the realities of having to have a true programme of economic development for this country, one that is well articulated and understood and, as his track record has shown, is going to be achievable.' Mr Grasso said the privatisation process under the premier would lead to a higher standard of living. 'He is well respected by markets and governments around the world. You have to be optimistic on China.' The NYSE boasts 17 mainland and Hong Kong companies and Chinese firms have raised more than US$3 billion in capital in the US. Mr Grasso said China had a key role to play in making the NYSE the first choice for non-US companies seeking a listing overseas. The NYSE planned to become the number one stock market in the world. Asked about the poor disclosure record of many mainland listed companies, he said senior officials had told him they were committed to improving the level of disclosure. This will be one of the themes of a joint seminar to be hosted by the NYSE and the China Securities Regulatory Commission in the near future.