Emerging Markets : Flurry Of Diplomacy Smoothes Relations With Allies



Henry Paulson with

Chinas president

Hu Jintao

Chinas Communist Party is shaking up its leadership in the countrys financial hub. Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu was removed from office in September and may face criminal charges as part of an investigation into illegal investments made by the citys social security fund managers. Shanghais Baoshan district governor and the head of the citys social security fund also have been dismissed.

The leadership changes publicly reaffirm Beijings commitment to stamping out government corruption and will allow current president Hu Jintao to choose a replacement for Chen, who was appointed by Hus predecessor, Jiang Zemin. The new appointment will firmly establish Hus political power ahead of Chinas 17th Party Congress next year.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited China in early October only weeks after taking office. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been tenuous in recent years largely due to Japans past wartime aggressions and differences in how the two countries interpret those actions. Economic relations have in the same period deepened significantly, with China replacing the US last year as Japans largest trading partner. During his visit, Abe acknowledged damage Japan had inflicted upon its neighbors and emphasized the importance of good relations between the two countries.

Newly appointed US secretary of the treasury Henry Paulson also met Chinas political leaders in Beijing in September. While the visit yielded no direct commitments from China, the yuan subsequently rose to its highest level against the US dollar since the dollar peg was removed last year. Legislation in the US Senate that would have imposed significant tariffs on all Chinese goods was also dropped.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) kicked off its road show on October 9 for what will likely be the worlds largest initial public offering (IPO) to date. ICBC is Chinas largest bank by deposits and operates almost 19,000 branches around China. If an over-allotment option is exercised, as many expect, the total amount raised could reach $21.9 billion, easily ranking the IPO as the worlds largest. Stocks will be offered on both the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets.

Thomas Clouse