Hong Kong and mainland investors were hopeful that the US$700 billion bailout plan would pass a crucial vote yesterday so that it could jump-start the world's largest economy and restore order to the troubled financial system. The proposal is designed to pump in massive amounts of cash through separate instalments to clear up bad assets clogging the financial system. Local officials expected the bailout could ease some of the credit concerns that have destabilised global markets. Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said the plan marked a promising beginning, but added that there were concerns about whether the amount of funds earmarked for distribution was sufficient. Meanwhile, Ronald Arculli, the chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, highlighted the growing importance of the mainland economy in the global system in light of the US slowdown. 'From the point of view of China, the crisis outside Asia is something that it will need to come to grips with,' Mr Arculli said. 'The expectations for China playing a greater role on the global scale are increasing as time goes on.' The mainland's booming economy, supported by a growing consumer base and strong capital position, may even be able to withstand a prolonged US slowdown, according to some economists. 'We are in uncharted waters here. Ten years ago it would have been a more cut and dried case that if the US and Europe slow down, so would the rest of the world,' said David Cohen, a director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore. 'But the fact is that places like China now carry a much bigger weight in the world.' Mainland investors were hopeful that the US economy could still recover, however, and stimulate a flagging export industry. 'Taking a long view, China could benefit if the US economy recovers,' said Gu Weiyong, the chief investment officer at Ucon Investment Management. 'The exporters will have another day in the sun when overseas demand rebounds.' While investors hoped for a return to past days of fortune, observers warned that the US bailout plan might signal a new economic era. 'This is the first instalment in what's likely to be a massive regulatory backlash in the months and years to come,' said Stephen Roach, the chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.