In tiny Luxembourg, ancient castles and churches stand in the view of glistening tower blocks, the modern cathedrals of a financial sector that has benefited from the Grand Duchy's proximity to some of Europe's largest economies.
Now, the small nation of half a million people is seeking to be at the heart of a new trend in global finance: the rising use of China's currency outside its home market.
As of the first quarter, around 18% of China's $4 trillion in annual foreign trade was conducted in the currency, known as the yuan or renminbi, according to HSBC Holdings PLC, which expects that figure to rise to one-third by next year. With billions of euros in transaction and servicing fees up for grabs, the race is on to become the world's pre-eminent hub for offshore yuan trading.
根据汇丰控股(HSBC Holdings PLC)的数据，截至第一季度，中国人民币4万亿元的年度贸易总额中有约18%用人民币结算。该行还预计，明年这一比例将升至33%。目前全球许多城市都在为成为离岸人民币中心而竞争，因为相关交易和服务费收入规模能达到数十亿欧元。
'The internationalization of the renminbi is one of the major events, if not the major event, since the creation of the euro in terms of monetary events. It's potentially huge, so we want to be positioned for that market,' Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said in an interview.
Like their rivals from London, Paris, Frankfurt and other financial centers, Luxembourg fund managers, regulators and politicians have made major overtures to attract China's financial clout to the country. Even Crown Prince Guillaume, the 32- year-old heir to the Grand Duchy, has joined in, accompanying a December delegation to China.
Officials at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange keep enamel pins pairing the Luxembourg and Chinese flags to wear at events celebrating yuan-denominated bond listings, which hit 30.6 billion yuan in volume when Bank of China Ltd. raised 1.5 billion yuan in May. At the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry, information packs and wall posters have been translated into Mandarin. Local legal and accounting firms and even the financial regulator, the CSSF, say they are hiring Chinese speakers.
中国银行(Bank of China Ltd.)今年5月份在卢森堡发行了人民币15亿元的债券，令卢森堡的人民币计价债券发行总规模达到了306亿元，在庆祝活动上，卢森堡证券交易所的官员们佩戴着印有卢森堡和中国国旗的珐琅徽章。在卢森堡基金业协会(Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry)，资料袋和墙上的海报都被翻译成了中文。当地的律师事务所、会计师事务所、甚至卢森堡金融监管委员会(CSSF)都表示，他们正在招募会讲中文的员工。
Their efforts are paying off. On one trade mission to China this month, for instance, a delegation from Luxembourg presented its hosts with commemorative stainless-steel EUR5 coins bearing the image of a blast furnace similar to one installed in Wuhan by a Luxembourger a century ago. At the end of the meetings, China signed a clutch of agreements that should lead to the establishment in Luxembourg of a yuan clearing bank and bring more China-related funds, bonds and stocks to the country.
Meanwhile, three of China's six biggest banks have set up European headquarters in the area locals call Luxembourg city's 'mini Wall Street, 'and two more announced plans in the past few weeks.
At China Construction Bank Corp., which got its Luxembourg banking license last year, European chief Suosheng Li can look out from the bank's glass-and-steel headquarters building onto the three round towers of Fort Thungen, an 18th century citadel that is one of the city's main landmarks. CCB's nine-story office block is mostly empty right now, but the bank aims to fill it with staff who will help bring Chinese companies to Europe and serve China-focused European customers, Mr. Li said.
中国建设银行(China Construction Bank Corp.)去年获得了卢森堡银行业执照，该行欧洲业务负责人Suosheng Li站在由玻璃和钢筋建造的总部大楼里可以看到18世纪城堡Fort Thungen的三个圆塔，这是该城市的主要地标之一。Li说，建设银行的办公大楼有九层，目前大部分还未投入使用，但是该行计划招募员工，帮助中国公司打入欧洲市场并且为专注于中国的欧洲客户提供服务。
'We start with what we are familiar with, corporate banking, and then gradually we will expand into different areas, like private banking and asset management and other retail-banking areas,' Mr. Li said.
Luxembourg will have to compete with much larger financial centers to tap into the potential of China's currency. U.K. Chancellor George Osborne hosted the first U.K.-China financial forum in London in June, eliciting agreements with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to start direct trading between the British and Chinese currencies and licenses for British fund managers to invest directly in China's markets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a visit to China this month won a quota for German investors to enter its stock and bond markets, alongside several industrial trade deals. Paris is also getting a yuan clearing bank on top of existing investor quotas, and Switzerland signed a swap line with the Chinese central bank this month as a first step toward hooking up the two countries' financial sectors.
'China is of growing importance, it's currency is of growing importance, and London needs to be part of it,' said Mark Boleat, policy chairman at City of London Corp., the body leading the U.K.'s push and advising the Treasury. He said Chinese banks are also likely to expand in the U.K., even if it isn't their official European headquarters.
伦敦金融城(City of London Corp.)政策主席包墨凯(Mark Boleat)表示，中国越来越重要，人民币越来越重要，伦敦需要参与其中。伦敦金融城牵头英国与中国在金融业的合作，并为财政部提供建议。他说，中资银行也可能在英国扩大业务，即便这些银行正式的欧洲总部不在英国。
Luxembourg's pitch promises minimal red tape and a business-friendly government, in a country where the financial services industry is the biggest contributor to gross domestic product--at 25% last year. Officials say it can take less than six months to get a banking license--half the amount of time it takes in the UK.--and incoming executives don't have to go through grilling interviews or take exams that are required in some countries. For instance, when China Construction Bank set up in Luxembourg last year, Chairman Wang Hongzhang said it had been the fastest process of any of the bank's overseas operations, accomplished at 'Luxembourg speed.'
CCB's executives say further Chinese investment in the small country is sure to follow.
The Grand Duchy's economy may be relatively small compared with neighboring France and Germany, but it is no slouch when it comes to financial services. Efficient tax structures and a deep pool of finance professionals have attracted EUR2.82 trillion in fund assets from all over the world since the industry took off in Luxembourg in the 1980s, the highest level outside the U.S., according to Mark Saluzzi, chairman of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry. As China moves to fully internationalize its currency, Luxembourg wants to become an overseas center for Chinese savings and investments.
相比邻国法国和德国，卢森堡经济规模可能显得相对较小，但它的金融服务业毫不逊色。卢森堡基金业协会董事长马克 萨卢齐(Mark Saluzzi)称，自上世纪80年代卢森堡基金业起飞后，高效的税制和众多的的金融人才帮助基金业从全球吸引了2.82万亿欧元的资产，规模在全球范围内位列第二，仅次于美国。随着中国全面推进人民币国际化，卢森堡希望成为一个吸引人民币储蓄和投资的人民币离岸中心。
'We know that we will have to travel many more times to China to show them what we can offer,' said Mr. Saluzzi. 'But we will get our foot in the Chinese market.'