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|Thursday, April 27, 2000, updated at 16:12(GMT+8)|
Tung Confident of Positive Vote on PNTR for ChinaTung Chee Hwa, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China, Friday said he is confident, after meeting with U.S. congressional leadership, that Congress will pass the legislation of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) for China.
"I am delighted that the congressional leadership are committed to a vote in the House in late May, and in the Senate in early June," Tung told a luncheon attended by hundreds of U.S. businessmen at the Ronald Reagan International Center. "I am confident that Congress will make the right decision in the interests of the U.S. and in the interest of the multilateral trading systems which the U.S. has done so much to help create and has received so much benefits, in other words, a positive vote for PNTR," Tung said.
Tung addressed the luncheon, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after meeting with President Bill Clinton earlier on Friday and leaders of Congress on Thursday.
Tung noted that PNTR for China and the country's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are "not simply about business opportunities," it is also about "strengthening economic stability in the region," "ensuring that differences on trade issues are resolved sensibly" and "developing the global economy on responsible, rules-based principles."
"The rules-based system under which we operate has facilitated and encouraged regional and international cooperation on the full range of trade and investment issues," he said.
The system has enabled the emerging economies to lift living standards for millions of people and build more prosperous, stable societies, he added.
"So it is surprising to me that there is so much debate here in the U.S. on the issue of PNTR for China," he said.
The U.S. Congress annually decided after a debate to resume the normal trade relations with China. The Clinton administration agreed to grant PNTR to China when the two countries signed an agreement last year on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and it needs to be approved by Congress. Tung stressed that if the House fails to pass the PNTR legislation in May, the damage to Hong Kong's economy will be "devastating" because the region's economy is strongly linked to mainland China.
"One of our great advantages in taking forward this vision is our links with Mainland China. Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong has benefited greatly from China's open door policy," he said. The United States will greatly benefit from normal trade relations with China, Tung said, citing the fact that more than 1, 100 U.S. companies have invested over 21 billion U.S. dollars in Hong Kong.
"No doubt U.S. businesses will make good use of their presence in Hong Kong to leverage the significant opportunities created by China's entry to the WTO," he added.
It is estimated that China's trade will double within the next six years as a result of the accession and U.S. exports accordingly could grow from 21 billion U.S. dollars in 1999 to 42 billion U.S. dollars by 2006, Tung said.
Tung also told the guests that "One Country, Two Systems" is working well in Hong Kong. "We are proud of what we have achieved in almost three years since Reunification."
On the economy of Hong Kong, Tung said the economy is expected to grow by five percent this in 2000. It grew 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 1999.
Tung arrived from New York and departed on Friday for Los Angeles after a private meeting with President Bill Clinton at the White House and other senior U.S. officials. This is Tung's second visit to the United States since he was elected as the first chief executive of China's HKSAR in 1997.
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