Beijing will continue to support Hong Kong's bid to maintain its status as an international financial, trading and shipping centre, Vice-Premier Wu Yi said yesterday in a 'definite promise' to the city. Speaking before a meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and a 100-member Hong Kong delegation in Changsha , Ms Wu praised Hong Kong's remarkable economic recovery. 'Hong Kong has overcome all kinds of difficulties and faced all kinds of challenges in the past two years,' she said. 'But under the leadership of the chief executive and other parties, I'm glad that Hong Kong's economy has undergone significant recovery.' Under the 11th five-year plan, the mainland would strengthen its support and co-operation with Hong Kong in all aspects, she said. 'We will continue to support Hong Kong as a financial, trading and shipping centre to develop its advantage. This is a definite promise from the central government.' Ms Wu said Hong Kong and the central part of China had very good prerequisites to co-operate, especially after the implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. 'The rate of Hong Kong businesses investing in China never slows down. The development is still going strong.' She also urged the delegation to visit central China more often to 'learn more'. 'I understand you have had a lot of investment in the east already. [Investing in the central provinces] is what I call 'moving along with the time'.' After meeting the vice-premier, Mr Tsang said he had taken the delegation to Changsha because he wanted to give a pragmatic push to Hong Kong's economy. He said Hong Kong's advantage was its professional services, and abilities in branding and setting up businesses. 'We want to encourage more Hong Kong businesses and investors to go into central China,' he said. 'We should have a wider scope on the world and always keep our word to do what we say in order to keep our leading status in the world.' Legislator Vincent Fang Kang, of the wholesale and retail sector, said manufacturers in Hong Kong would seek opportunities to set up factories in central China instead of in the Pearl River Delta. He said a shortage of labour and electricity in the delta area had become major problems for Hong Kong-owned factories there. 'I can see a trend of factories moving north now,' he said. 'Right now, the logistics costs might still be higher than in [the delta] area, but in the long term, I think central China will have its advantages.' HSBC executive director Peter Wong Tung-shun said the bank would look for opportunities to open more branches in central China as there were more Hong Kong businesses in the area. Mr Tsang and the delegation are due to return to Hong Kong tonight.