BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- A senior official said Wednesday that the Chinese government will continue to support economic growth in Hong Kong and Macao.
Economic policies in the country's 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) will especially support Hong Kong in consolidating and lifting its status as an international center for finance, trade and shipping, said Xu Shaoshi, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planning body.
Meanwhile, the development of Guangdong's Hengqin, an island separated from Macao by the Pearl River Estuary, will also bring opportunities for Macao's diversified development, said Xu at a press conference during the second session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC).
The ongoing 12th five-year plan, set for 2011-2015, is a guideline for the nation's overall economic and social development. Research work for the 13th five-year plan is under way, Xu said.
Xu said that further efforts are to be made in speeding up infrastructure construction, such as a high-speed rail link and cross-sea bridges among the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.
"So far, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) project is going smoothly and we look forward to its opening by 2016," Xu said. The HZMB, a combination of bridges, a tunnel and artificial islands, will cross the Pearl River Estuary and link Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao when completed.
Meanwhile, two-way investment will be boosted and the government will continue to support mainland companies to issue bonds in Hong Kong.
Efforts will be made to ensure that the mainland's basic supplies to Hong Kong and Macao, such as natural gas, electricity and water, are in order, he said.
He also hoped that a plan proposed last year for the establishment of a free trade zone for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will soon receive the approval of authorities in order to enhance mainland-HK-Macao cooperation.