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The backstory: Shanghai, a global business hub, is home to major banks, investment firms and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It also hosts China’s biggest foreign business community. Multinational giants like Tesla, Apple and L'Oreal have set up shop in the city to access China's vast market. But Shanghai faced some economic challenges last year during a two-month COVID lockdown, which had an effect on its global standing.
Notably, China, dealing with a slower-than-expected recovery after COVID and a declining population, has been looking to boost its economy through strategies like attracting foreign investments and fine-tuning the rules for artificial intelligence (AI) to support that developing tech sector.
More recently: Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping met in San Francisco on the sidelines of the APEC Summit to discuss crucial global matters. They last met nearly a year ago at the G20 conference in Bali, Indonesia. During this recent meeting, Xi highlighted his dedication to making things easier for foreign investors to help boost the economy in its recovery.
The development: For the first time in three years, President Xi made a visit to Shanghai, shining a light on this Chinese financial hub. His two-day trip on Tuesday and Wednesday included key figures – economic chief Vice Premier He Lifeng and chief of staff Cai Qi.
State broadcaster CCTV covered Xi's inspection of the Shanghai Futures Exchange and his appearance at a sci-tech innovation center exhibition, underscoring China’s efforts to boost Shanghai's global position in finance and tech.
Xi's schedule also involved a visit to a government-subsidized housing community, emphasizing a focus on social housing development amid recent supportive measures for the property sector. During his visit, Xi also checked out a walking robot at an exhibition, as Shanghai is a major hub for some of the nation’s biggest tech companies.
“Shanghai remains an economic locomotive for China because of its link with the foreign markets via the ports and airports,” said Ding Haifeng, a consultant at Shanghai financial advisory firm Integrity. “Inflow of capital and talent will eventually benefit the development of the YRD.”
“Shanghai is the most-developed and most-open area of China,” said Wang Huiyao, founder of the Center for China and Globalization. “By going there it shows President Xi is attaching a lot of importance to the development of the largest city in China.”
"To open up new areas and new arenas in development and foster new growth drivers and new strengths in the face of fierce international competition, China should ultimately rely on scientific and technological innovation," said Chinese President Xi Jinping in March.