The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, leading the delegations of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the 11th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held today (August 5).
The meeting reviewed the progress of co-operation over the past year and discussed the future direction of Hong Kong and Guangdong. In response to the concerns of people of both places on livelihood issues, both sides agreed to further enhance the implementation of co-operation areas by means of various concrete measures which are closely related to people's livelihood, including co-operation on major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points, environmental protection, safeguarding of food safety, tourism, education, culture, sports and social welfare.
Co-operation in major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) has a very important strategic value to further enhance the economic development of Hong Kong, Macao and the Western Pearl River Delta region (Western PRD). It will significantly reduce the cost and time on travelling on the flow of people and goods between Hong Kong and the Western PRD, accelerate the economic integration of the PRD and its neighbouring provinces and increase its competitiveness vis-a-vis countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other economic zones such as the Yangtze Delta region. As such it has always been the common goal of the three Governments to go full steam ahead with the project, to minimise any risk of possible delay to its programme, and to realise its economic benefits as soon as possible.
The governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have reached consensus on a new financing arrangement for the HZMB, a major breakthrough in the implementation of this project. Apart from the earlier agreement for each of the three governments to be responsible for the construction of the Boundary Crossing Facilities and link roads within their respective territory, the three sides have further agreed to take up the responsibility for the construction of the Main Bridge as well. To demonstrate her full support for the HZMB, the Central People's Government has decided to make contribution to the construction cost of the Main Bridge. Together with the contribution of Guangdong, the Mainland would be contributing a total of RMB 7 billion, whilst Hong Kong and Macao will contribute RMB 6.75 billion and RMB 1.98 billion respectively. The total contribution of the three sides would be RMB 15.73 billion, which is about 42 per cent of the total construction cost of the Main Bridge. The remaining funding required will be financed by loans.
With the three governments agreeing to fund the construction of the Main Bridge, the submission of the feasibility study report can be greatly accelerated, and the programme of the HZMB much more certain. The three governments will also have better control over the toll level of the bridge, thus maximizing its economic benefits.
Since the feasibility study report has yet to be submitted, the exact amount of contribution may still be subject to changes. Moreover, as the new financing arrangement would involve funding applications in the three territories, the arrangement is also subject to the relevant approval procedures. The next step would be for the three sides to come up with a formal agreement and institutional set-up for the implementation of the project. There is also a need to tender out the design work of the bridge. It is expected that construction of the bridge will commence no later than 2010.
Guangdong and Hong Kong are fully committed to facilitating passenger and cargo flow between the two places, and has been working closely together in the planning of various cross boundary infrastructure, such as the construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) and the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai control point as well as the study in the co-operation between the airports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The construction work of the XRL is expected to commence in 2009, and the preliminary study of a possible rail link between the airports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen is aimed to be completed within this year.
Co-operation in economics and trade
Both sides agreed to further enhancing co-operation in the services industries of the two places, and to introduce a package of 25 services liberalisation and facilitation measures for early and pilot implementation in Guangdong. The two sides will fully capitalise on the measures under Supplement V to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), the Guangdong pilot measures, as well as the closer connection with Taiwan to encourage business enterprises to continue investing and developing business in Guangdong in an active way. In order to enhance the knowledge of the Hong Kong business community of the preferential measures so as to speed up entry into the Guangdong market, both sides agreed to step up exchange and promotion, formulate implementation guidelines and regulations, establish notification and discussion mechanism, and strengthen the support service to Hong Kong Service Suppliers.
Furthermore, both sides agreed to continue to assist the Hong Kong-owned enterprises in Guangdong, including to introduce measures to assist them in restructuring without production halts, or to relocate to the east and west wings and the northern mountainous areas of Guangdong. Both sides also agreed to facilitate these enterprises to expand their sales into the domestic market, and support the trade in enhancing their product grades and technological levels.
Co-operation in environmental protection
On the front of environmental protection co-operation, the two sides agreed to continue to actively implement the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plans and the enhanced measures recommended in the Mid-term Review Report. Both sides are committed to, and confident of, achieving the jointly agreed 2010 emission reduction targets.
The two sides have also agreed to jointly transform the Greater Pearl River Delta Region into a Green Quality Living Sphere. The development strategy will centre on environmental protection, and it will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of both places. The drawing up of post-2010 air quality objectives and emission reduction targets will be a principal area. At the same time, both sides will also deepen co-operation in other areas, such as developing industries in support of circular economy; cleaner energy production; and introducing advanced technologies, management expertise and capital investment at international level to facilitate adoption of cleaner production at enterprises. The objective is to make the regional environmental protection co-operation in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region as an exemplar, and to transform the region into a world-class quality living sphere. The Guangdong authorities have already embarked upon a study on this concept. Both sides will carry out more detailed planning on a scientific basis.
Co-operation in innovation and technology
The governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong have launched the "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" in 2004. In the past three years from 2004 to 2006, the two governments have supported some 400 R&D projects with total funding of about $1.1 billion. These projects fall into various technology areas, including communication technology, new energy, environmental technologies, biopharmaceuticals and nanotechnology. Among the 85 projects supported by the Hong Kong side, about 40 have already been completed.
Under the "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme 2007", governments of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Shenzhen have supported eight projects which are under the technology areas of energy-saving and new energy vehicles; white LED core technologies with high power efficiency; core technologies for RFID, and integrated circuits. A total of about $60 million in funding has been requested by the eight supported projects. The three sides have also organised briefings for the participating parties from the three places on the co-supervision arrangements for the supported projects. Among the projects supported respectively by the three governments, the assessment of those supported by the Hong Kong side is near completion and results are expected to be announced shortly.
Co-operation on social welfare
Both sides agreed to jointly take forward the measure of "allowing Hong Kong service providers to operate welfare service agencies for persons with disabilities in the form of wholly-owned private non-government enterprises in the Guangdong Province on a pilot basis" and to enhance the collaboration between Guangdong and Hong Kong in the provision of welfare services for persons with disabilities.
Co-operation on education
Both sides have all along been supportive of the co-ordination and training of teachers in Guangdong and Hong Kong. Hong Kong will liaise with the Department of Education of Guangdong Province to discuss details about the implementation of a new exchange programme in Guangdong to enable junior secondary and senior primary students to conduct two- to three-day exchange programmes in the province to assist teachers in promoting national education outside classrooms through site visits and hands-on experience.
To provide the children of Hong Kong residents who are living and studying in Shenzhen with more comprehensive and satisfactory arrangements when they return to Hong Kong to further their studies, Hong Kong and Shenzhen agreed to a launch a trial scheme to enable two Shenzhen schools to participate in the 2009/10 Secondary School Places Allocation System. Apart from continuing to study the relevant execution details, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Governments also agreed to enable the two schools to utilise resources on the curriculum adopted in Hong Kong to facilitate compatibility of the curriculum of the two places.
Other co-operation items
On other co-operation items, both sides agreed to set up a new expert group under the framework of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference for facilitating the two sides' co-operation in emergency management.
As co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong grew closer and more diversified, the two sides agreed to continue promoting co-operation in other items, including intellectual property, informatisation, town planning and development, culture, sports, the notification of infectious diseases, the flow of talents, and the joint promotion of co-operation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.
Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Agreement Signing Ceremony
Hong Kong and Guangdong signed 11 co-operation agreements after the meeting. They are:
* Co-operation Agreement on Expediting the Implementation of CEPA and its Supplement V
* Agreement on the Promotion of Education Exchange and Co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong
* Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Tourism
* Co-operation Arrangement on Allowing Hong Kong Service Providers to Operate Welfare Service Agencies for Persons with Disabilities in the Form of Wholly-owned Private Non-government Enterprises in the Guangdong Province on a Pilot Basis
* Co-operation Agreement on Job Referral Agency Service
* Co-operation Agreement on Job Intermediary Service
* Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Medical Services
* Co-operation Agreement on Registration of Hong Kong Professionals who have obtained the Mainland's registered Urban Planner qualification or Supervision Engineer qualification in Guangdong
* Agreement on Co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong in Promoting Hong Kong-Owned Processing Trade Enterprises to Restructure and Upgrade
* Agreement to enhance co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in emergency management
* Co-operation Agreement on the setting up of the Joint Platform for Co-operation in Innovation and Technology
A summary of the 11th Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation agreements is at Annex.
Co-operation achievements since the 10th Plenary
At the meeting, the Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSAR Government, Mr Henry Tang; the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Wan Qingliang, and other Hong Kong and Guangdong officials reported on the co-operation progress and achievements since the 10th Plenary.
The 11th Plenary
The Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, co-chaired the 11th Plenary in Guangzhou today. Principal officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang; the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau; the Director of Chief Executive's Office, Mr Norman Chan; and relevant officials.
The Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Zhou Bo, and the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Ms Guo Li, also attended the meeting as special guests.
The Chairman of the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council, Dr Victor Fung, also attended the relevant section of the Plenary and briefed the Plenary on the Council's collaboration with Guangdong business organisations in the past year and their work plan for the coming year.
Ends/Tuesday, August 5, 2008
CE attends HK /GD Cooperation Joint Conference
The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, witness the signing of 11 agreements on co-operation and exchanges between Hong Kong and Guangdong.