The Hong Kong Government is spending millions of dollars on American real estate in a bid to make sure the territory's US presence remains stable after 1997. Hong Kong officials in the US are on the point of buying office space in San Francisco, and are negotiating similar deals in New York and Washington, to replace rented accommodation for the territory's economic and trade offices. Secretary of Trade and Industry Denise Yue Chung-yee, whose office is in charge of the expenditure of overseas trade offices, has been looking over the final plans on a trip to Washington. Barrie Wiggham, Hong Kong Commissioner in Washington, would not reveal the locations or prices of the three properties concerned, as the deals are still under negotiation. The Washington property deal, which is close to being concluded, involves a grand, old four-storey brick building in the heart of a historic preservation district. It is located at the southern end of what is referred to as Embassy Row, the stretch of Massachusetts Avenue dominated by beautiful embassy buildings and ambassadorial residences. The proposed Hong Kong office also has a modern extension built onto the back. The total space is several times greater than the small space now rented by officials in a section of one floor of a modern block not far from the new site. The property could cost between US$5 million and US$10 million (HK$38.62 million and HK$77.24 million), residents say. It is understood the Hong Kong Government had also been looking for an old-style detached building in Manhattan, but had ruled that out because of the high cost, and had settled on buying commercial space in a modern building downtown. Mr Wiggham said the news had been treated by the diplomatic community here as 'significant', because it signalled that Hong Kong would not be abandoning the US because of 1997, but would on the contrary have an even more permanent base. He said it made economic sense to invest in property, rather than continue to pay rent on the three offices.