The Rise of International Financial Centers in Mainland China

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This paper assesses the major cities in mainland China that are competing to become international financial centers (IFC). Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen are compared in terms of their strengths and weaknesses as IFCs. We find that in China, the state plays a particularly important role in the growth of a financial center by providing favorable policies, creating localization economies, consolidating banks, and strengthening the city's power through state-owned enterprises. Our analyses generate a contour map of China's emerging IFCs in a global context and thus provide an important first step toward theorizing IFC development in a transitional economy.