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China Plans to Build Small Commercial Planes - 2002-10-07

China hopes to build small commercial aircraft for use in the domestic and Asia markets and Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa cancels a European bond sale. State-owned China Aviation Corporation 1, also known as AVIC 1, plans to begin building small commercial planes. The jets, with 60 to 90 seats, will be used for flights in China and elsewhere in Asia.

China's state council approved about $600-million for the venture. Since 1999, China has been working to create a domestic aircraft industry, instead of relying on planes built by foreign companies. With more and more Chinese traveling by air at home and abroad, aviation analysts expect China to need at least 1,500 new passenger jets to meet demand.

AVIC 1 makes military aircraft and produces parts for Boeing jetliners and other multinational aviation companies.

At the World Economic Forum East Asia Economic Summit in Malaysia, Japan's new Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka promised to fix the country's troubled banking system. The banks are burdened with massive amounts of bad loans. "The Japanese economy has been suffering from this non-performing problem so let's solve the problem," he said. "Many people will agree [to] that."

Mr. Takenaka also hopes to push forward a tax deregulation plan by November to go into next year's budget. Mr. Takenaka heads an eleven-person panel tasked with restoring economic growth to Japan. Aside from reducing corporate taxes, the panel is looking into providing tax incentives to attract investors.

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa canceled a $1.4 billion European bond sale last week.

The company says it postponed the bond deal due to tough market conditions. Hutchison is heavily invested in third-generation mobile phone technology in Europe.