Seminar at the University of Hong Kong, 26th February 2009

I will be giving a talk at the Department of Geography, University of Hong Kong, on the 26th of February (Thursday) 2009. Seminar Venue: Room 222, Hui Oi Chow Science Building. Time: 4.15pm-5.15pm. All are welcome.

Title:
Differentiated Markets: Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing as Financial Centres

Abstract:
Much of the early research on global cities has been concerned with rankings and hierarchies, with the side effect of placing cities in competitive terms. More recent accounts have highlighted the importance of a relational approach that examines how cities are embedded in flows of capital, culture, policy and labour. In this presentation, I bring together processes of regulatory formation, knowledge networks and capital flows and ground them in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong and analyse their roles as financial centres. The first part examines the factors contributing to
Shanghai’s success to-date, from narratives of historical success and eminence and central government policies to geographical location and cultural factors. The second part addresses the contemporary concern of competition with other Chinese cities, primarily Beijing and Hong Kong. Early research findings reveal a qualitative distinction in the roles of these cities, with Beijing as a ‘political centre’, Shanghai as a ‘business and commercial centre’ and Hong Kong as an ‘offshore financial centre’. This is reflected in the distinctive operational structures and business strategies of financial institutions that I interviewed and suggests some form of functional coordination and complementary roles played by these top Chinese cities.

Biography:
Dr Karen Lai is a Killam postdoctoral fellow at the Department Geography, University of British Columbia. Her research interests are in geographies of money and finance, global cities, markets, neoliberalism, and political economy. She has published in Environment & Planning A and Geoforum, and is a co-author of Changing Landscapes of Singapore. Her current work examines the circulation and development of market ideas and structures in the financial centres of Shanghai and Hong Kong, focusing on networks of regulatory cooperation and business linkages. She received her Bachelor and Master degrees from the National University of Singapore and PhD from the University of Nottingham.

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