Monday, 30 September 2013

Where'd the Officials Go?

Premier Li Keqiang was a no-show at the Shanghai free-trade zone opening
This is strange. While Shanghai's much-heralded free-trade zone opened officially yesterday, there were no senior officials on hand to cut the metaphorical ribbon.

Premier Li Keqiang, who personally fought for this zone as part of his ambitious economic reforms, was not there. Neither was Vice-Premier Wang Yang or central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan.

It must have been very strange for attendees, and particularly the media covering the event, to not have one top official to bless the opening of the zone.

What's the deal?

In July Li faced open opposition from conservative financial regulators. He apparently lost his temper at one closed-door cabinet session. When he was told of continued opposition to his plans, Li apparently slammed his fist on the table in frustration.

And then there was the "are they or aren't they" going to make Twitter and Facebook available in this free-trade zone. At first it was reported the ban on these social media sites would be lifted, and then denied by a report by People's Daily, and then that report was withdrawn.

Yesterday there was no explicit mention except that telecommunication firms can apply to the cabinet for special permission to offer certain services that may not be in line with current local regulations.


We are beginning to wonder if this Shanghai free-trade zone will work, and if so, how long it will last, as indications are, not everyone is on board with this project.

Perhaps Hong Kong really has nothing to worry about.

In the meantime may we suggest to Li that pounding fists on the table doesn't help the situation...

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