SHANGHAI should lobby the central Government for greater autonomy in upgrading ties with Hongkong and Macau, according to a mainland senior economist. Mr Cai Beihua, executive director of the Shanghai Research Institute of International Studies, said rules governing visits by Shanghai residents to Hongkong and Macau should be relaxed. ''The problem is not with the Hongkong or Macau governments,'' Mr Cai said. ''It's the mainland authorities who have tied our hands.'' He said Shanghai authorities had demanded special policies from Beijing to allow local companies to register in Hongkong and Macau, and permit staff to visit the enclaves. ''We are also asking for power to scrutinise and approve multiple visas to the two places. Guangzhou already has such powers,'' he added. ''These rights are important to increase co-operation between Shanghai, Hongkong, Macau and Taiwan.'' Mr Cai was speaking in Beijing yesterday at a symposium organised by the All-China Society of Hongkong and Macau Economic Studies. Stressing that Shanghai had its own strengths in economic development, the academic conceded that the coastal city had fallen behind Guangdong and Fujian in terms of economic co-operation with Hongkong, Macau and Taiwan. Despite increased co-operation in recent years, Mr Cai said there had been no comprehensive strategy developed for improving ties. Mr Cai urged authorities to tackle the problem regarding ownership of property which was confiscated by the communist government after it came to power in 1949. The fixed assets of many Taiwanese were either taken over by the Government or unlawfully occupied after the owners escaped to the Kuomintang-ruled island on the eve of the communist takeover. Mr Cai said some Hongkong parties were also laying claim to properties which they said had been confiscated by Shanghai authorities after 1949. ''This has caused confrontation between businessmen from Hongkong and Taiwan,'' he said. ''It is also one of the reasons why the 'Shanghai clique' [among overseas-Chinese business people] had not been enthusiastic about investing in Shanghai''. He urged the municipal Government to take an active and positive attitude towards solving the problem so that people would feel easier about investing in the metropolis. He said the municipal Government should allow some Shanghai firms to issue shares in Hongkong's stock market to absorb local funds. He also said it should also consider issuing bonds for Shanghai's infrastructure development in Hongkong and Macau.