The collective sigh of relief that echoed round Hong Kong at the resolution of the CT9 row yesterday was all the greater because of the way in which the argument had become an emblem of the mistrust and lack of co-operation between China and Britain. As so often happens in such cases, Hong Kong had been the hapless victim - if half the energy and angst expended on this issue had been directed towards constructing the terminal, it would by now have been halfway completed. At last, it seems an arrangement satisfactory to China has been put forward and so the work of construction can begin. The news is tangible proof of a growing harmony in relations between the two countries. There is nothing to be gained by looking back on the wrangling over CT9. The important thing is that the dispute is settled. The immediate challenge is to try to make up for lost time. Hong Kong's position as a major shipping port is no longer a sinecure. There is steep competition from container terminals on the mainland and around the region. To stay ahead, services have to be highly efficient and charges must be competitive. The hold-up over CT9 has heightened the possibility of congestion in the port. While shipping goes on increasing and alternative facilities open up elsewhere, a great deal of urgency needs to be attached to construction work. In June, the secretary of the Port Development Board warned that the local economy would lose an estimated $78 billion between next year and 2011 if terminals 10 and 11 were not constructed quickly. This underlines how the go-ahead for CT9 is not the end but the beginning of what promises to be a hotly contested and hard-run race between regional shipping centres.