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Cut costs or lose out, Beijing warns Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Like it did 10 years ago in the run up to the handover, the weather has been foul in Hong Kong this week with endless downpours. For its maritime community too it would be appear that the bad news doesn't just rain down, but it pours.
Just last week a senior official on the National Reform and Development Commission suggested the former British colony should forget about ports and focus on high end logistics instead. Then the mainland's largest shipping line, Cocso Holdings, debuted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange to huge acclaim, showing other maritime firms that Shanghai can be a good alternative to the Hong Kong stock market.
Earlier this week Beijing further clouded Hong Kong's maritime horizon by announcing dramatic incentives to lure mainland ships away from other flags, such as Hong Kong, and back to the motherland.
Now, a vice minister of communications, Weng Mengyong, has told Xinhua Hong Kong port operators need to cut costs dramatically if they are to have any hope of remaining competitive. Hong Kong's maritime community remains resilient to this barrage of pressure, yet this weekend's 10th anniversary celebrations, at least from the shipping sector's point of view, look likely to be a damp squib. [29/06/07]


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