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Chinese Premier promises support to Hong Kong, Macao amid global financial crisis

BEIJING, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced Friday the mainland's plan to help Hong Kong and Macao tackle economic challenges amid the global financial crisis.

“The motherland will always provide a reliable backing for HongKong”, Wen said during a meeting with Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(HKSAR).

The move is reminiscent of China's pledge to back Hong Kong, a leading world financial center, during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.

According to Wen, the central government would help Hong Kong overcome challenges brought by the world financial crisis by promoting financial cooperation between the mainland and HKSAR.

The central government would help Hong Kong upgrade infrastructure construction and grant favorable policies for small and medium-sized HK enterprises, he said.

“The mainland would also ensure stable food, water, electricity and natural gas supply for the region and further open of its service industry market to HKSAR.

Measures will also be taken to encourage more mainland tourists to visit Hong Kong, said the Premier.

Wen said “the central government would firmly support the work of HKSAR and with joint efforts, Hong Kong people could turn present difficulties into opportunities... and achieve sustainable development.”

In a separate meeting with the Macao Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah, Wen said the central government would take similar support measures for the region.

“The central government will unswervingly support Macao to overcome difficulties and maintain a stable economic development in the region,” the Premier said.

Both Donald Tsang and Edmund Ho Hau-wah were in Beijing for a briefing on regional work to the central government.

Hong Kong and Macao, previously colonies separately owned by the British and Portuguese, respectively returned to China in 1997and 1999.

The two regions enjoy a high degree of autonomy, maintaining a capitalist economy under the policy of "one country, two systems".

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