Authorities in Dalian have outlined a plan to develop the northeastern coastal city into one of the financial centers of Northeast Asia.
After the State Council, the country's cabinet, approved a blueprint to develop the Liaoning coastal economic belt, further development of Dalian's financial sector will strengthen the city's shipping, logistics and modern industries, said Cao Xu, director of the finance office of the Dalian.
"The central government's strategy to revitalize industries in northeast China has laid a solid foundation for Dalian to develop into a financial center in Northeast Asia," Cao told China Daily.
Dalian's total financial assets, bank loans and deposits topped all cities in northeast China last year, Cao said.
It now has more than 90 financial organizations with 2,995 outlets.
Dalian's financial businesses, which employ more than 60,500 professionals, reach across the entire northeast and eastern Inner Mongolia as well as into some areas of the north.
The Dalian Commodity Exchange, one of three futures trading institutions in China, has eight commodities listed and accounted for 46.8 percent of the country's futures trading turnover in 2008.
The exchange is also the world's second-largest agricultural products trading centers.
Dalian has 27 foreign-invested financial organizations, including Citibank from the US and the Standard Chartered Bank from the UK, the largest number in northeast China.
It has also established six financial back service centers and the only foreign exchange center in the northeast of the nation.
As the only city with offshore banking services in the northeast, Dalian has developed business relationships with about 4,000 banks in more than 150 countries and regions.
Non-performing assets in its financial institutions were just 3.7 percent at the end of last year.
"Enhanced financial development is of great importance to building Dalian into the international shipping center of Northeast Asia," Cao said.
The central government's strategy to revitalize the region's industries has projected just that - to make Dalian one of the important shipping centers of the entire region.
Cao said that making it a financial powerhouse as well is a natural progression.
"Take Shanghai and Shenzhen for example. They are both shipping centers and financial centers," he said, noting the close relationship between shipping and financing.
Such financial clout will also help strengthen Dalian's leading position in the drive to develop the Liaoning coastal economic belt approved recently by the State Council, China's cabinet.
"Finance is the core industry in modern market economy. The coastal economic belt development needs a lot of financial support," the official said.
As well, the financial industry has high added value and is environmentally friendly. It will help push the revitalization process of the old industries in the region, the director said.
He suggested that both the Dalian city and Liaoning provincial governments should adopt preferential policies to support the development of the financial sector.
In a blueprint for the future, the sector should be prioritized, with importance also given to foreign financial and insurance businesses, he noted.
"We should also get policy support from the central government to list Dalian as a experimental city for financial reforms," Cao said.
Developing a headquarters economy - driven by home offices of large firms - should also be given utmost importance.
"We should also bring in more talent by fostering cooperation with leading financial colleges and international monetary fund organizations," the director said.
At the same time the local government should push financial development in rural small and medium-sized enterprises to help them better raise funds.
Financial support should also be given to some large infrastructure projects, he stressed.