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Hong Kong to Boost Competitiveness With Major Infrastructure Projects


Hong Kong's chief executive has announced a new infrastructure development plan to boost the territory's competitiveness and the European Union has announced it will scrap import quotas for Chinese textiles. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

Hong Kong's chief executive, Donald Tsang, has announced a $32 billion infrastructure package as the backbone of the territory's development plan for the next five years.

The 10 large-scale projects include a bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and the southern Chinese manufacturing hub of Zhuhai and an express rail link between Hong Kong and the mainland Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Tsang says he expects the projects to boost Hong Kong's competitiveness.

"Upon completion, they can bring along economic value amounting to [a] substantial level," he said. "That will be seven percent of our GDP [gross domestic product] and also create 250,000 additional jobs."

The European Union has agreed not to extend quotas on textile imports from China next year. The quotas will be replaced with a joint surveillance system that monitors both the issuing of export licenses in China and the import of goods into the EU.

The EU imposed the textile quotas in 2005 out of concern that inexpensive Chinese imports were swamping the European market. The quotas are due to expire at the end of this year.

China's Mingsheng Banking Corporation says it will spend up to $317 million to buy a 9.9 percent stake in U.S. bank UCBH Holdings. Both banks have agreed that Mingsheng's stake can later be increased to 20 percent. The deal marks the first strategic investment by a Chinese bank in a U.S. lender.

San Francisco-based UCBH Holdings caters mainly to Chinese communities in the United States.

Japan's Sony Corporation says it will cut the price of its Playstation 3 game console by 10 percent in Japan. Sony is trying to catch up with fellow Japanese competitor Nintendo, ahead of the crucial year-end sales period. Nintendo's Wii game console has outsold the PS3 several times over in Japan.

Sony says it will also cut the price of game consoles sold in Europe.

The company's financial unit, meanwhile, has made a successful debut on the Tokyo stock exchange. Sony Financial Holdings raised $2.7 million - making it Japan's biggest initial public offering this year.

Malaysia's low-cost airline, AirAsia, will begin service to the Lao capital of Vientiane and to the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh in November. The airline says tickets to the capital of Aceh province will be sold for as little as $3. The airfare for Vientiane has not yet been determined.

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