Hong Kong's talented professionals have been given new hope amid rising unemployment, with a mainland entrepreneur saying they are in demand in the vast mainland market. Expertise in Hong Kong is the key to making China become more internationally competitive and co-operative, said Jacob Wang Shusheng, chairman of Federal Express-DTW. 'Hong Kong people have knowledge of the world and also understand China's culture,' Mr Wang said. His comments come as Hong Kong's jobless rate in the third quarter rose to a 17-month high of 5.3 per cent and an increasing number of professionals are facing the prospect of job losses as the Hong Kong economy shrinks. 'Hong Kong professionals are top priorities in our employment list, followed by Singaporeans and Taiwanese,' Mr Wang said. Founded in 1999, Federal Express-DTW is a joint venture between United States-based Federal Express and mainland private company, Datian W. Group. It is the sole marketing agent helping the US carrier handle its express business in China. Incorporated in Beijing, Datian W. Group is a transport and logistics company run by Mr Wang with 1,600 staff, mostly mainlanders. 'But quite a large portion of our senior management [in Datian] are Hong Kongers,' Mr Wang said, adding that the company would employ more in the near future. Federal Express-DTW also has a lot of Hong Kong employees, he said. 'China and Western culture is impossible to link together due to their differences. They need a bridge, and Hong Kong people will act as that bridge,' Mr Wang said. He cited his company's co-operation with Federal Express as an example. 'US companies have a totally different management style from Chinese firms,' he said. 'For example, they trust their employees and are very dedicated to their staff. 'But it does not work in China at the beginning of the operational stage, because mainlanders will become lazy without strict instructions. 'This management style had created conflicts between Datian and Federal Express.' In this respect, Hong Kong people had been a lot of help, he said. Mr Wang also believed that Hong Kong would maintain its status as an international financial centre in light of the strong infrastructure and human resources back-up in the territory. However, he said it could lose its status as a global trade centre, because many goods would be directly shipped to China without having to go via Hong Kong as China further opened its ports after its entry to the World Trade Organisation. With gross assets of 300 million yuan (about HK$281 million), Datian is a relatively small company. However, Mr Wang said the company planned to seek a listing in the future.