Beijing will press ahead with plans to allow the yuan to be freely convertible despite Southeast Asia's currency turmoil, People's Bank of China deputy governor Chen Yuan says. While he told a World Bank-IMF seminar yesterday that the mainland would not be giving up its plan, he refused to say whether the proposal would be slowed down because of speculative attacks on neighbouring currencies. 'It is a long-term project to allow the yuan to be freely convertible after allowing convertibility on the current account last year,' Mr Chen said. 'We will carry out the plan step by step and we will consider carefully our capital market and measures to control cash flow before we will allow the currency to be fully convertible.' There have been suggestions that the turmoil of recent months might prove a setback to Beijing's plans to fully convert the currency by its original scheduled date of 2000. Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) deputy chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam told the seminar that the Asian currency turmoil showed that a country should not open up its market completely unless it could ensure its financial system was able to cope with speculative attacks. Mr Chen said the mainland would support the Hong Kong dollar if its assistance was ever required. The HKMA's Mr Chan said Hong Kong was unlikely to need the Chinese central bank's help because of its strong reserves. Mr Chan also said the Hong Kong dollar would not be pegged with the yuan. About 20 to 25 per cent of Hong Kong notes in circulation were circulated on the mainland, he said. Mr Chan said the HKMA was not worried about the situation because it was a natural result of the tightening up of the Hong Kong and mainland economies. He said the figure was based on physical notes, which accounted for only a small amount part of Hong Kong's money supply.