Beijing officials yesterday formally declared their ambition to turn the city's central business district into an international financial hub on the scale of Hong Kong, New York and London. 'Building a major financial centre in Beijing is one of the important steps in realising our goal of building a new Beijing and a new Olympics,' said city official Chen Yanhong. The capital will stage the Olympic Games in 2008. Yesterday, Mr Chen announced the formation of the Beijing Financial Advisory Group, which comprises of executives from a dozen multinational banks, domestic think-tanks and local officials. Talk of competing with Shanghai and Hong Kong for the title of the nation's top financial centre was avoided. Instead, officials noted that the services sector comprised 60 per cent of the city's gross domestic product and that Beijing was building a world-class infrastructure that 'would soon be China's Manhattan'. Martin Fish, head of Standard Chartered Bank in China, praised the city's efforts in building a central business district. However, he noted challenges ahead that could make it difficult for it to become a regional financial hub. 'A large domestic economy will of itself attract financial skills and resources,' he said. 'But there are other factors to be considered. 'These include the presence of a well-structured transparent financial system and capital market operating to market-driven mechanisms. This means ... creating full capital convertibility. Clearly this cannot happen too quickly.' Han Ping, director of the Bank of China's national sales department, said Beijing still had a long way to go to attain the basic requirements of a domestic finance sector. She also hinted that the social ills brought about by massive property development and the forced evictions of Beijing residents may have long-term repercussions.