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Division of functions to be specified
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

The Ministry of Communications will draft a comprehensive plan for port layout planning in addition to specific projects to maintain development of Hong Kong's ports, a senior official said.

"The ministry will continue to support Hong Kong's port enterprises' efforts to invest in, and build ports on the mainland," deputy minister of communications Weng Mengyong said.

"Meanwhile, the ministry will support mainland shipping enterprises' efforts to make full use of Hong Kong's ports' advantages and open container transport routes between the mainland and Hong Kong (from where container cargo would be shipped abroad)," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

Weng said that after many years of development, Hong Kong ports have obvious advantages in port service, financial settlement and customs clearance, which is important to the SAR's competitiveness.

He suggested that Hong Kong should maintain these advantages and try to lower the costs of transporting and distributing containers.

Currently, the port cluster in the Pearl River Delta area is among the areas handling the greatest container transport volume in China.

The area contains the Hong Kong port, Shenzhen port and Guangzhou port.

It is estimated that by 2010, the mainland ports in the delta would handle 40 million TEU of containers, while Hong Kong port would handle 30 million TEU of containers.

Weng said accommodating such a large volume of container transportation in one area would require a clear division of functions among ports within the cluster.

Each port in the delta features respective advantages and they all complement one another, he said.

China has developed five coastal port clusters, respectively located in the Bohai Rim, the Yangtze River Delta, the southeastern coast, the Pearl River Delta and the southwestern coast.

According to a national plan for coastal ports, these port clusters have different functions and serve the economic development of various hinterlands.

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