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Hong Kong Means Business

"A city under siege" raises issues about multinational corporations (MNCs) and Hong Kong (Asian Business, July 23). We have some 3,000 regional headquarters and offices here in Hong Kong, more than anywhere else in Asia. They are here because it is the best location for the great markets of Asia. Many now co-locate for the China market with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. MNCs are only part of the picture.

Hong Kong's bigger story is about 300,000 small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) that did more than $400 billion in trade last year, moving us up from 10th to 9th in the world. This, not rents or salaries, is the true test of Hong Kong's competitiveness.

The Trade Development Council has been connecting with SMEs the world over to work with them on Hong Kong's trade services platform. "MN-SMEs"--small and midsize companies that are going multinational--are aggregating here in ever-greater numbers, building critical mass and increasing the potency of our trade platform. Hong Kong is working actively to strengthen our advantages--and their rewards.

Peter Woo


Hong Kong Trade Development Council

Hong Kong

Anyone who has had to navigate the maze of regulations in China or resolve a commercial dispute there will recognize that the problems will take time to put right. On the other hand, getting work done in Hong Kong is easy. This is not to say that the administration can afford to do nothing. But it would be unrealistic to assume that they are going to sit on their hands for a decade or so while competitors catch up. By then, I suspect that Hong Kong will have raised the bar and many of today's smaller companies that dominate manufacturing in Southern China will be major players on a world scene, where they will have captured not just U.S. and European consumers, but Chinese consumers as well.

Jeremy M. Kidner

Hong Kong

In one way, Hong Kong is under siege--from foreign companies wanting to set up their regional bases here. There were more than 3,000 on June 1, 2000, and scores more since. Hong Kong does face strong competition from elsewhere in the region, but the value that China's joining the World Trade Organization will add to our economy means we will stay ahead of the game.

M.J.T. Rowse

Director-General of Investment Promotion

Hong Kong

While contrasting Hong Kong and Shanghai, Frederik Balfour and Mark L. Clifford should also have mentioned that Transparency International ranked Hong Kong much more favorably (14th) than the mainland (57th) on perceptions of corruption. Since the article overlooked this important factor, I rated it as just another comparison of [bad] apples and oranges.

Roger Levy

Sparkill, N.Y.

I am glad to see that more and more multinational corporations see the advantage of being in the center of the action, not just "close to the action," by moving their operations to cities like Shanghai. Shanghai has everything that Hong Kong can offer, and one thing that Hong Kong will not have--the blessing of the central government.

Wei Xie

Lansdale, Pa. Thank you for your coverage of the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) as a tool for managing content ("A library to end all libraries," Technology & You, July 23). I would like to correct one possible misperception. You note "worries that publishers will have trouble maintaining the sort of databases that DOI demands." In fact, an advantage of DOI is precisely to prevent publishers from having to do this. In the CrossRef implementation cited in the article, 72 publishing companies use millions of DOIs, but there is only one database, maintained by CrossRef. In other applications, the DOI may point to another source of the data. The DOI for Electronic Books from Content Directions Inc., cited in your article, shows such a functionality.

Norman Paskin

Director International DOI Foundation

Oxford, England Underlying Robert J. Barro's "Why would a rock star want to talk to me?" (Economic Viewpoint, July 16) is the now generally accepted view on AIDS: Since there is no cure, let us at least reduce the misery caused by the epidemic. This gives no consideration to the underlying cause of the disease's frightfully rapid proliferation. We all know that the one behavior that most fosters AIDS is sexual promiscuity. Education aimed at redignifying human sexuality to the ancient values of lasting fidelity to one's partner in life is the absolute remedy, but sadly the more difficult and therefore never mentioned one.

Derek C. Pey

Paris A fair price for a share is a price way below the discounted value of all future dividends. "Eli Lilly: Life after Prozac" (The Corporation, July 23) notes that Prozac contributes about $2.7 billion in annual sales and $1 billion in profits to Eli Lilly & Co. The ruling last Aug. 9 affected a little over two years of Prozac profits, or $2 billion. So a loss of $36.8 billion in its market value is surprising. This gives the impression that many investors were not even aware the Prozac patent would expire someday.

Wale Ogundana

Lagos, Nigeria Belgium is indeed the best place to live if you are not working for a salary ("If you're wealthy, this must be Belgium," European Business, July 23). It is also the best place to die if you are rich. If you give your money to your children (or anybody else you think is worth it) three years prior to your death, there is no tax either. The problem is setting the date, of course.

Gerard Govaerts


Antwerp's "tony suburbs" are called Schoten and Brasschaat, not Schoeten and Braaschot. You must have trouble finding your way around the country!

Barbara Van Meir

London "Wait a second--I didn't order that!" (American News, July 16) was, I hope, read by the board of Inc. Without one's permission they will charge an annual domain name renewal to your credit card. I don't want to renew a domain name, and I particularly do not want an unauthorized charge against my credit card, but every attempt to stop them from doing so has so far failed.

Sean Whyte

Bath, England

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