THE new Morning Post Centre at Tai Po stands as a symbol for the future of the South China Morning Post: a bold, imaginative, imposing building that demonstrates the confidence the company holds in the next century and the on-going relationship between Hong Kong and China. 'The move has got to do with the Post's confidence in Hong Kong as part of China and the future,' the Post's chief executive, Lyn Holloway, said. It was a bold statement that said the company could move with the times and remain highly competitive, he said. 'This [facility] will provide the company with the most modern press facility in Hong Kong at a landmark location, able to take the company well into the next century,' said company chairman Robert Kuok. This confidence cannot be understated. At a time when newspapers around the world are suffering at the hands of increasing costs, mainly due to the enormous increases in the price of newsprint, the Post has decided to invest $670 million into the move from its long-time 'home' in the old Morning Post building in Quarry Bay. The funding covers new editorial facilities at Dorset House adjacent the old SCMP building as well as the production and administrative facilities at the Morning Post Centre, acknowledged as one of the most technologically-advanced buildings of it kind in the world. Where some see an uncertain path, Mr Holloway sees clear direction. China is Hong Kong's future and of that the Post is well aware. It may be coincidence that the move to Tai Po was a move that put the Post geographically closer to China (that was simply a matter of economies of scale) but Mr Holloway said the Post's plans included much greater participation on the mainland. 'Our growth will come from China. The Post is Hong Kong's leading English-language daily and we would like to develop its potential to become China's leading English-language daily,' Mr Holloway said. 'At some stage we would want to see the Post selling as many copies in China as Hong Kong.' The ability for such expansion is what the Morning Post Centre is all about. 'The sheer size of the press hall [at the Morning Post Centre] means there is an opportunity there to put the building to significant more press use,' Mr Holloway said. A planned financial daily, concentrating on the mainland and Hong Kong with a circulation of 30,000, is on the drawing board and there are plans to expand the company's activities into magazines and other publications. This type of expansion requires room, technology and the facilities which the Morning Post Centre offers. 'We now have the production and printing facilities to do such things as a full China edition of the Post, a financial newspaper and prepare magazines up to the printing stage,' Mr Holloway said. While the Post has a China edition with a circulation of about 5,000 on the mainland, the content of the paper does not vary a great deal from the Hong Kong edition. But a total revamp would be needed to achieve the goal of having a circulation of about 115,000. 'A move into China is a challenging one. You will need a specialist paper,' he said. 'Remember you are dealing with a different sector. A newspaper in China would be specifically marketed for China. You have to fashion your product to the market. 'In the event that you did get as much circulation in China as we have here, we would need to publish somewhere in China, possibly Beijing. That could handle northern China, while we could publish editions for southern China at the Morning Post Centre.' The move to Tai Po, as it turns out, was a lucky coincidence. With the split in operations, news gathering and display advertising stays close to the urban core in Dorset House, while administrative, technical and distribution facilities are enhanced by the move to the New Territories. Throughout the Post's history, it has always been a lack of space that instigated moves. Its first offices in 1903 were temporary, in Duddell Street, Central, while the company waited for its new headquarters in Connaught Road to be built. It was then up the hill to Wyndham Street. Crowded conditions forced the paper to move in 1971 to Quarry Bay. History once again repeated itself. The Post outgrew its Quarry Bay headquarters and a new move was essential. But it will be a long time before the Post will have to move again. 'Our [Tai Po] lease is for 47 years. We could last another 40 to 50 years here, with a minimum of 20 years with the space we have available,' Mr Holloway said. 'We could not say that about any of our former offices.' Technology had become as important to newspaper production as space and was another aspect about which the company was aware, Mr Holloway said. 'Our $670-million investment in the Post is just the beginning. 'We are talking about more investment in technologies. 'Computer technology changes day by day and those changes must be challenged.' With the challenging relocation of the Post to the state-of-the art Morning Post Centre in Tai Po now completed and the with the editorial facilities in Dorset House successfully linked to the production facilities in Tai Po, the present has been taken care of. The vision of the Post is now for a successful future. 'Not only will the Post, through this transition, cater for the needs of the future, but it will guarantee a smooth and continuous production of a quality daily newspaper,' Mr Holloway said.