China Opens Shanghai Stock Market to Hong Kong

    17 November, 2014

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

    Investors in Hong Kong and Shanghai may now invest in a limited group of securities on either city's stock exchange. C. K. Chow is the chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. He called the move "a breakthrough in the opening of China's financial markets and an important milestone in the development of Hong Kong." He said the new way to invest made Hong Kong a gateway between mainland China and international investors.

    The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect gives investors the ability to buy stocks listed in mainland China. It also permits Chinese investors to buy stocks listed in Hong Kong.

    China Opens Shanghai Stock Market to Hong Kong
    Hong Kong Exchanges Chairman Chow Chung-kong, left, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pose before beating a gong during the launch ceremony of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect in Hong Kong Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

    There are limits, however, to the value and the kinds of stocks that can be traded. Investors may trade only a total of $3.8 billion-dollars-worth of stocks each day.

    Julian Evans-Pritchard is a China economic expert at Capital Economics based in Singapore. He told VOA's Victor Beattie that the move to open the stock exchanges to each other was important. But Mr. Evans-Pritchard noted that the total value of stock that can be traded is a relatively small quota.

    "The immediate impact of the scheme is not likely to be that big and that is partly because regulators are taking a very cautious approach to limiting the quota to about one percent of the market capitalization of each market."

    Mr. Evans-Pritchard says, if the quota is filled, officials may see a reason to increase it over time and open up the exchange further. The stock plan represents a limited reform measure. Mr. Evans-Pritchard says what is important is that China is opening up its capital account to foreign investment money, which can come in or go out.

    China's stock market offerings have had limited success in recent years. The biggest public stock offering by a Chinese company, Alibaba, took place on the New York Stock Exchange rather than within China.

    It was not clear if Chinese officials would approve the plan. Mr. Evans-Pritchard notes that the protests in Hong Kong had raised questions about whether Chinese officials would permit the plan, or scheme, to go forward.

    "I know some people had talked about the scheme being cancelled as a result of the Hong Kong protest as a kind of punishment. But, I don't think that was in their interest."

    Michael McCormack is a financial advisor and executive director at Z-Ben Advisors based in Shanghai. He says the move is a major change that could increase the number of shareholders.

    "I think it's likely that we're going to see a lot of the state-owned firms in China - companies where one branch of the government or another owns 40 to even 80 percent of the firm - try to sell off their shares into the market and broaden the shareholding base. Both inside China and internationally... That would be the really significant change."

    And that's the Economics Report for VOA Learning English. I'm Mario Ritter.

    Mario Ritter wrote this story for Learning English from materials provided by VOA's Victor Beattie and Bruce Hunter. Jeri Watson was the editor.


    Words in this Story

    listed- adj., among the securities officially traded on a financial exchange

    quota- n., an official limit on the amount or number of things that are permitted

    scheme-n. a plan or to get or do something; an official plan or program;

    shareholders-n. people or companies that hold ownership shares in a business or company

    Now it's your turn to use these Words in This Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.