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China: Game of Finance – Tyranny of Acronyms

China’s use of financial acronyms began in 1980 and has since morphed into an all-out love affair that shows no sign of abating.

Photo: iStock

“Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP, shouldn’t we keep the PC on the QT, ’cause if it leaks, he could end up MIA, and then we’d all be put out in KP.” *

That is Robin Williams playing the radio personality Adrian Cronauer in the film Good Morning, Vietnam.

These days, acronyms are embedded in the financial landscape. You cannot sit through a meeting without mentally hoovering up dozens of the things.

But some places take acronym-embrace beyond the next level and into another world, and this is where China comes in.

China first flirted with them in 1980, when it was still dirt poor and recovering from decades of war and chaos. Former leader Deng Xiaoping, an expert communicator, came up with the idea of special economic zones.

To be a banker, investor or analyst here, you have to chew through a mountain of acronyms each day

The first one was located in now-wealthy Shenzhen and the idea of special zones to support specific financial or commercial activities caught on. China now has six SEZs, but also 21 free trade zones (FTZs), 169 high-tech industrial zones (HIDZs) and 218 economic and technological development zones (ETDZs).


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