CHINA stayed on course for their third straight Asian Championship crown by crushing Malaysia 5-0, but it was minnows Hongkong who kept the vociferous home crowd roaring at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium with an historic win over Japan last night. Hongkong were considered the weakest team in Group A but coach Chan Chi-choi's tactic of saving his best team for the Japan clash paid off as they scored a 4-1 victory. ''We would not have stood any chance of beating either China or Malaysia so I kept our top players fresh for this match against Japan and the boys did not disappoint,'' said a jubilant Chan. ''This is our first ever win over the Japanese and will no doubt boost our confidence for the East Asian Games, where the Japanese are recognised as medal contenders.'' Hongkong champion Chan Kin-ngai gave the territory a terrific start when he took less than 20 minutes to demolish Kazuhiro Shimogami 15-1, 15-0. But disappointment was to follow when the territory's top doubles pair, Chan Siu-kwong and Ng Pak-kum were beaten 15-1, 15-7 by Koji Miya and Fumihiko Machida in the second rubber. Olympian Wong Wai-lap put Hongkong back in the lead by beating Hideaki Motoyama 15-2, 15-8 but the Japanese were favoured in the remaining two rubbers. The second doubles match was a thriller as underdogs Chan Kin-ngai and Chow Kin-man played surprisingly well to win the opening game 15-10 against Takuya Katayama and Seiichi Watanabe only for nervousness to take over in the second, which the Hongkong pair lost 15-4. But with the crowd roaring them on, the local combination overcame a tentative start in the decider and went from strength to strength, winning 15-9 and wrapping up the tie for Hongkong. Ng Liang-hua was at his best in the dead rubber and scored a morale-boosting 15-9, 15-13 win over Fumihiko Machida. Hongkong's Group A rivals, China, completed the preliminary round with an unblemished record by whitewashing a second-string Malaysian outfit. Chinese number three singles player Wan Zhengwen, however, was given a scare by underrated Ong Ewe Hock before coming back from one game down to triumph 7-15, 15-4, 18-16. With the tie already lost Malaysia gave a walkover in the second doubles, conserving themselves for today's semi-final against Group B winners Indonesia. The Indonesians, fancied by many to wrest the crown from China, completed their preliminary matches without dropping a game by hammering South Korea 5-0 last night. Taiwan, surprise 3-2 winners over the seeded South Koreans on Wednesday, beat Thailand 4-1 to finish second in Group B and book a semi-final berth against China. Sompol Kukasemkij gave Thailand first blood by beating Lee Mou-chow 7-15, 15-5, 15-3 but his teammates failed to respond and they lost the other four rubbers. Meanwhile, Singapore and India advanced to the Division Two final with 5-0 victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively.