Thu, Aug 18, 2011 - Page 1 News List

China’s vice premier woos Hong Kong

AFP, HONG KONG

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) said yesterday that Hong Kong plays an “irreplaceable role” in China’s rapid economic growth and will be key to making the yuan an international currency.

Li, the expected successor to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) as head of China’s day-to-day administration, announced a series of measures to boost economic integration with the former British colony, which returned to China in 1997.

Those steps include making it easier for Hong Kong firms to do business in China and boosting the city’s status as a hub for Beijing’s ambitious goal to turn the yuan into a global currency rivaling the US dollar. He also said overseas investors would be allowed to buy Chinese securities using yuan, starting with an initial 20 billion yuan (US$3.13 billion) investment, but gave no timeline for the scheme.

“Hong Kong’s destiny and prosperity link closely with those of the motherland,” Li told an economic forum in the semi--autonomous territory.

The premier-in-waiting added that it was key that Hong Kong “continues to bring out the unique advantage it has developed over the years and play its irreplaceable role in [China’s] reform, opening-up and modernization drive.”

Li arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday on a three-day visit as he looks to showcase himself ahead of an expected leadership reshuffle in Beijing next year.

So-called dim sum bonds valued at about 70 billion yuan were issued in Hong Kong during the first seven months of the year, 95 percent more than the total for all of last year, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang told the forum.

“Hong Kong is blessed to enjoy the advantages of ‘one country, two systems,’” said Tsang, referring to the model of autonomy under which Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule.

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