China promises measures to help Hong Kong survive economic slump
Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao on Friday promised 14 measures from the central government in Beijing to help Hong Kong survive the global economic slump, reported dpa.
Wen made the pledge in talks with Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Friday morning, the third and final day of Tsang's annual visit to the Chinese capital.
The measures promised by Wen included allowing more mainland Chinese visitors to enter Hong Kong to boost tourism and help for Hong Kong businesses with factories in China's Pearl River Delta.
Infrastructure projects involving Hong Kong would also be speeded up, said Wen, who commented after his meeting with Tsang that he was confident Hong Kong would overcome the economic slump.
China is credited with playing a major role in reviving Hong Kong's economy by easing cross-border travel restrictions following the 2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
More than half the 28 million visitors who entered Hong Kong last year were from mainland China, thanks to the scrapping of rules that barred individual cross-border travellers.
Tsang was due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday afternoon before returning to Hong Kong. He earlier had talks with top banking and tourism officials.
The annual visit by Tsang has been overshadowed by the global economic crisis, which has taken a heavy toll on Hong Kong, where stock prices have fallen by 50 per cent this year.
Hong Kong officially went into recession in November after recording two-consecutive quarters of contraction in its gross domestic product. Jobless rates have also climbed at their highest rate since 2003.