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Cathay Pacific's resumption of services to Beijing helping to promote co-operation between Hong Kong and Chinese mainland, says councillor Tang

04 Mar 2004

In a meeting with Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett and leaders of various chambers and business communities at the Great Hall of People, State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said the airline's resumption of services to Beijing has a special meaning. In broad sense, it reflects an aspect of CEPA and signifies the Chinese Mainland working hand-in-hand with Hong Kong.

Councillor Tang met the delegation, which joined Cathay Pacific to celebrate the airline's resumption of services to Beijing, for more than an hour. He congratulated the airline for resuming services to Beijing and said that it has helped to promote co-operation on aviation between the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong and provided specific directions for the future development of CEPA, which has already started well.

Cathay Pacific Airways Chairman James Hughes-Hallett explained the airline's objectives to Councillor Tang.

1. Cathay Pacific sees itself as a member of the business community. It employs 26,000 people in Hong Kong and is committed to the future of Hong Kong and the "one-country, two-systems" model.

2. Cathay Pacific will expand its fleet to 100 wide-bodied aircraft in the near future, making it the largest wide-bodied aircraft fleet in the world. Mr Hughes-Hallett said it is the airline's job to sustain, protect and develop Hong Kong as a leading aviation and tourism hub.

3. Over the next 20 years, there will be significant growth in tourism in the Chinese Mainland, and Cathay Pacific will work hard to support its development. The Chinese Mainland will see exciting developments both in inbound and outbound tourism. With over 100 sales offices worldwide and a global network serving 86 destinations, the airline will help promote China's tourism industry and assist mainland carriers by feeding tourists into their networks and connecting them to overseas countries. Mr Hughes-Hallett said that Cathay Pacific would develop closer links with the three mainland carrier groups and develop relationships with them to bring greater benefits in coming years.

Councillor Tang emphasised that the Central Government will firmly and consistently carry out the "one-country, two-systems" model and the Basic Law and will do its best to assist Hong Kong in its economic recovery and protect the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong with confidence. The Central Government has always paid close attention to the development of the political system in the HKSAR. Any study regarding this issue should be made with a thorough understanding of the "one-country, two systems" principle and strict adherence to the stipulations of the Basic Law. He said that the Central Government has confidence in the economic development of the territory and he appreciated the vigour and ambition of the Hong Kong people. He hoped that the trade and commercial community would jointly support the work of the HKSAR Chief Executive and the Government and work harder to achieve positive results in promoting the economic development of Hong Kong, increasing the confidence of foreign investors in Hong Kong and enhancing the co-operation with the Chinese Mainland, so as to achieve a win-win situation to bring prosperity and wealth. He also urged the attending guests to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the territory.

Among those who met with Councillor Tang included two frequent flyers from Japan and Germany who have flown with Cathay Pacific for 50 years. Councillor Tang gave them special congratulations.

Cathay Pacific co-hosted a dinner this evening at the Beijing Hotel with the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) for the business chambers and business leaders in Hong Kong. CNTA Deputy Director Zhang Xiqin said the airline's resumption of services to Beijing was a "breeze in spring to Hong Kong tourism" and added that it signified the start of a new era in the development of tourism in the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong.

Speaking at the dinner, Mr Hughes-Hallett said that over the next 10 years, China will become the world's most important travel destination and that the market has unlimited potential for development. He said that Cathay Pacific is excited by this challenge. The airline has long been working closely with mainland carriers and their counterparts and hopes that there will be more opportunities to co-operate with the re-organised mainland airline groups.

Mr Zhang also said that after the Chinese Mainland resumed sovereignty of Hong Kong, the Central Government and its tourism administration have been working to raise co-operation on tourism in both places to a higher level. From July 2003, when the Central Government first allowed individual travellers to visit Hong Kong, until February of this year, a total of 1.22 million visitors have visited Hong Kong. Within the single week of the Chinese New Year, 370,000 visitors visited Hong Kong. It is predicted that 10 million visitors will visit the territory this year. Both parties should therefore be confident in the prospects of co-operation in tourism.

State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan (front row middle) with the Cathay Pacific delegation.(From left) Vice Chairman of China National Tourism Administration Zhang Xiqin and Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett toasted at the dinner. On the right was Albert Lam, Director-General of the Civil Aviation Department of HKSAR.
Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett presented a fleet of aircraft model to State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan.Vice Chairman of China National Tourism Administration Zhang Xiqin presented a jade horse to Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett.
Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett and Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen met with the media from the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong.