CHINA'S new maritime law has added a new dimension to the possibilities for financing the mainland's merchant fleet and retaining the Chinese flag, although a more liberal tax regime will help further, according to Dan Bradshaw, a senior partner of Hong Kong law firm Johnson Stokes and Master. He said China should promote bareboat charter registration, which would benefit both the mainland and the vessel. ''In particular, where vessels trade on a regular basis to China, it would be of considerable assistance to the owner to have the vessel registered in China, while maintaining a registration of its ownership elsewhere,'' he said. China now had the means to confer its own flag on vessels owned outside China but used by Chinese owners. He said that, in the 1970s, China had used the Somali flag for political and financial reasons. ''Today, because of the potential of its bareboat charter law, China could use its own flag as bareboat charterer of vessels owned by its Hong Kong affiliates and for foreign-owned vessels which trade to China.'' He said Article 12 of the 1986 United Nations Convention on conditions for the registration of ships expressly permitted bareboat charter registration.