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Northeast Asia

Finance: China goes from student to teacher

Celebrating 30 years of Asiamoney.

When Goldman Sachs asked Hank Paulson to be its man in charge of Asia in 1990, it was for a simple reason: he was based in Chicago, which meant he was slightly closer to the region than his investment banking co-heads in New York  – “That will tell you how important Asia was to the firm’s plans back then,” he later recalled.

How times have changed. Global banks now have large operations in Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere in the region. Asia has become the obvious move for US investment banks eyeing juicy fees, for beleaguered European banks trying to escape tepid growth at home and for private equity firms in search of the next big deal. But while all of Asia has risen in importance, China is clearly in a league of its own.

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Asiamoney was first published in October 1989. At the time, China had neither stock exchanges nor well-defined policy banks. Deng Xiaoping, the country’s great market reformer, was struggling to consolidate his power. WTO membership was more than a decade away.

China appears to have evolved little in terms of its political structures since then, but many other things have changed a great deal.

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