Hong Kong will maintain its position as China's international center of finance and trade after Beijing referred to the city's development in its five- year plan for the first time in 53 years
Beijing will support Hong Kong's efforts in developing finance, shipping, trade and tourism
, while cooperating with it on infrastructure, resources and environmental protection, said Premier Wen Jiabao.
The plans will be discussed by National People's Congress representatives at the annual meeting that opened Sunday. The nearly 3,000 lawmakers will vote on the plan during the current meeting. It proposes to shift the focus from economic growth to narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, improving rural infrastructure and reducing pollution.
"We will fully support the chief executives in Hong Kong and Macau to implement their policies," Wen said.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang said the mention of Hong Kong in a five-year plan for the first time is encouraging.
"We will try to develop Hong Kong's international financial and renminbi services, deepen the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, and expand the individual travel scheme [under which Beijing has gradually allowed mainlanders from more and more places to travel to the SAR]," Tsang said. He was at the opening session of the NPC, the first time since becoming chief executive.
Under the plan, Macau's tourism will also be supported under a "moderate multi-developing" economy.
Beijing's five-year plan, the 11th since the Communist Party's first in 1953, will decide the country's economic and social development. The mainland hopes to maintain a relatively fast pace of economic growth without attendant effects such as runaway inflation.
The plan also calls for a highway between Beijing and Hong Kong or Macau to be built in that period.