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2007 Wharton China Business Forum

Does the global financial market sneeze when the Chinese stock market catches cold? Is the Chinese real estate market overheated with bubbles? To find possible answers for questions like these and to deepen the understanding of the fast changing China market, the 2007China Business Forum, organized by Wharton China Business Society of the University of Pennsylvania and its sponsoring organizations, was timely held in the elegant Loews Hotel at the heart of the Philadelphia metropolis on Saturday March 24. As its communication partner, representatives of the US-China Exchange Association (USCEA) also attended this informative, intriguing, and well-participated event.

The conference opened with remarks from the Associate Dean Jeffrey Sheehan of Wharton School, who welcomed the attendees from all over the country, and laid out the goals and programs for the event. The forum was conducted by several panel discussions: Affluent Classes and Luxury, Financial Reform, Real Estate Growth and Regulation, and Innovation and Technology. The distinguished panels from leading companies of the respective industries provided the audience with many insightful views on the various issues related to the China market.

In particular, the financial panel discussed the reform and some critical issues in the Chinese financial market. As an emerging economy, Chinese financial market is still underdeveloped in many ways. According to Winston Ma, VP of JP Morgan Securities, regulatory reform, share reform, and financial innovations are the primary tasks facing today's Chinese economy. For achieving its goal of strong economic growth with global balance and financial liberation, China needs to take some solid steps towards that direction. These include transfer of the state owned enterprise in a more transparent way, development of local credit market, and allowing the interest rate, the price of the capital, to play the determining role in the financial marketplace. In addition, as commented by Lawrence Goodman, Managing Director of the Bank of America, stable monetary policy, opening the capital flow, and hedging financial risk are also critical to the success of the financial reform in China.

Chinese real estate market also attracted many audiences' attention. The impact of macro-control policy of the Chinese central government on Shanghai real estate market and the penetration strategies of US firms in the Chinese real estate market were interestingly discussed. While some international firms, such as UBS, prefer to select investment targeting cities by the size of population, some others, such as Credit Suisse, pay more attention on the metrics such as real income and purchasing power that are more directly related to the demand for housing.

As arranged by the conference, Dr. George Wang interviewed one of the keynote speakers of the forum, Steve Butters, Global Managing Director of Deloitte Touche LLP. Steve has more than 20 years experience in the financial consulting services, and was one of the senior executives of the Deloitte who helped set up the business practice in China. For the past 7 to 8 years, Steve observed solid business growth in China. Their customer base expanded rapidly from multinational companies in China only to many Chinese large-medium sized firms. He believes there will be continued growth in China for, at least, another decade down the road.

The one-day conference held two primary goals: to promote communications among corporations, professionals, and academics who are involved with the Chinese market, and to inspire interest towards the rising Chinese economy and its impact on the global economy. The conference well achieved its goal by providing an effective avenue for UPenn community to communicate with the outside for the knowledge, opinions, experiences, and possible solutions for the China related issues and encouraging Wharton students and professors to pursue the opportunities in the global market for the years to come.

Allison Wang and Merry Tang
USCEA Reporters