Peace of the action for manufacturers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 July, 1993, 12:00am

SOME products made by China's armed forces are anything but military.

At least that is the case with the Long March rocket and civilian aircraft so admired yesterday by the Director of the Hongkong branch of the New China News Agency, Zhou Nan, and tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung.

They were at the opening of the '93 Hongkong International Fair on Peaceful Use of Military Industrial Technology exhibition.

But peaceful was hardly the word for the crowd, as people crammed in to see the exhibits of consumer goods made with military technology.

Robots, once committed to a role of loading explosives, are now friendly machines spending their working time irrigating plants .

Radioactive rays are being used to test the mineral content of human bones instead of preparing for nuclear war.

Mainland industries, which have made, or still make, military products are putting on the show to attract foreign investment as they increase non-military goods production.

Among them are Aviation Industries of China and China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC).

Aviation Industries of China president Zhu Yuli said China was seeking capital to develop commercial aviation either through joint ventures or listings on mainland or overseas stock markets.

China has already signed contracts with McDonnell Douglas to build 40 passenger aircraft by the end of the century and is negotiating with Boeing for aircraft production joint ventures.

Aviation Industries of China has been formed from a section of the Ministry of Aeronautics and Aerospace Industries.

It will be responsible for commercial aviation while another division of the ministry will handle military and aerospace activity.

Mr Zhu said the new enterprise would be run in a profit-oriented manner.

''China's aviation industry possesses very advanced technical know-how. What is needed is new funding to convert it to commercial use,'' he said.

Mr Zhu said Aviation Industries of China would have equity holdings in some mainland enterprises seeking a listing on the mainland stock exchanges.

CSSC, the parent of Guangzhou Shipyard, has also turned from military to civilian production.

In the 1970s, about 80 per cent of its products were military and 20 per cent civilian. Today the situation has been reversed.

The corporation also is branching into property in cities including Shanghai, Nanjing and Shenzhen.

It established a real estate company in Shanghai last month with a registered capital of 100 million yuan, with plans to build a high-quality office building with a floor area of 38,000 sq metres.

Work will start in October.

, with pre-sales starting in the first half of next year. An overseas agent is now being chosen for the project, with candidates including L&D, Centaline and Jones Lang Wootton.