The mainland will lead Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong in high-technology development because of its vast market and significant improvement in the sector, according to Sina.com chairman Daniel Chiang. Mr Chiang said Taiwan was now ahead of Hong Kong and Singapore in hi-tech industry, spurred by a pool of talent on the island. However, he said the mainland would become the most competitive country in the region and would play a leading role in this sector. Sina.com, which listed on Nasdaq in April, is the mainland's largest Chinese-langague Internet portal. Mr Chiang said there had been significant improvement in the mainland market, providing hopes that Taiwan, with a high-tech manufacturing base, could co-operate with the mainland. 'Taiwan needs the mainland [market], but the mainland does not really need Taiwan.' he said. Mr Chiang said Hong Kong and Singapore had also tried hard to attract foreign investments by offering incentives. Every region should capitalise on their comparative advantages to develop as a hi-tech hub in Asia. Despite the potential for growth, Mr Chiang said, the mainland could not avoid a process of consolidation amid keen competition. He supported the recent prediction by the mainland's Ministry of Information Industry that about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the country's Internet companies would close down, leaving the better-run portals to survive. Mr Chiang said the weakened atmosphere in the global technology industry would possibly prompt investors to be more selective in investing in high-tech stocks. But he was optimistic about the company's development, predicting that it would make profit in about 18 to 24 months. The company lost US$12.1 million in the three months ending March, compared with US$1.3 million in the previous corresponding period. Mr Chiang said the company was always 'conservative' in expansion and the money raised from the flotation would be sufficient for it to use over a period of time. Sina.com was also interested in seeking a listing outside Nasdaq such as in Hong Kong's Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), in Taiwan or in the mainland. He said the company thought about a listing on the GEM when it planned a flotation a few months ago, but the plan lapsed as the company had no time to prepare listing documents to fulfil the GEM board requirements.