Shanghai emerged as the top gainer in a MasterCard annual survey, jumping eight spots to become the world's 24th most influential city as it capitalised on China's increasing economic muscle. The mainland's financial hub for the first time squeezed into the top 25 of the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index in 2008, and was expected to become one of the top three most influential cities to the world economy, the United States credit-card company said in a report released yesterday. Shanghai 'continues to leverage its historically strong position as the financial and logistical hub to Asia', MasterCard said in the report. 'Shanghai is well positioned to assume its place among the top three cities in the world within the next 15 to 20 years.' The survey, based on indicators such as ease of doing business and financial flow, is designed to evaluate major cities' role in the global economy, and to provide guidance to corporations which are seeking a global presence. Hong Kong slipped one place to sixth, trailing third-placed Tokyo, and Singapore, at No4, as the third-most influential city in Asia. London maintained its top position in the list with 'a strong and secure economy, vibrant financial markets and a legal and political framework that supports high levels of international trade', the report said. The rise of Shanghai was partly attributed to China's fast growing economy, which was set to leapfrog Germany to become the world's third largest this year, economists said. 'It's not a surprise to see Shanghai's rise, because it is the country's economic and financial centre,' said Chen Xuebin, a professor of finance at Fudan University in Shanghai. 'But Shanghai has a long way to go in terms of its contribution to the world financial flow.' China had yet to liberalise its capital account, Professor Chen said, which prevented Shanghai from flying higher. Shanghai has recorded double-digit economic growth for 16 years in a row, with gross domestic product topping 1.2 trillion yuan (HK$1.35 trillion) last year, up 13.3 per cent from a year earlier. The city was the world's second-largest port last year in terms of container throughput. Shanghai port handled 26 million TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) last year, supplanting Hong Kong to become the world's second-busiest port, behind top placed Singapore. The MasterCard survey concluded that the future belongs to Asia and Eastern Europe.