The following is the transcript of the answers given by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, to questions raised during a media stand-up session after he attended the Special Meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee today (March 24):
Reporter : About Tsang Tak-sing's visit to Taiwan?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs : As far as the HKSAR Government is concerned, we adopt a very positive and proactive attitude towards promoting Hong Kong-Taiwan exchanges and relations. In the course of the last year, we have established a Hong Kong Trade Development Council office in Taipei. By mid-April we will be hosting the first Hong Kong-Taiwan Inter-City Forum with Taichung City. Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu will be bringing an official delegation to Hong Kong. This is a first for Hong Kong and Taiwan. On the part of Hong Kong, we will reciprocate by accepting an invitation for us to visit at some stage. We will decide on that after the first seminar has been held in Hong Kong.
Also, we are increasing the budgetary allocation for promoting Hong Kong-Taiwan liaison and exchanges activities. Even though the budget is only several million dollars, this represents a more than 100% increase on the provision we set aside for the last year. In particular, I would emphasise that as this portfolio of exchanges and programmes unfolds, we will according to the actual situation allocate more resources for promoting such exchanges. On the part of the HKSAR Government, I believe that in future the Secretaries of the Government, provided we have a suitable agenda and a suitable capacity, will visit Taiwan and we welcome exchanges with our counterparts in Taiwan.
Reporter : What about Tsang Tak-sing, is he going?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs : Mr Tsang Tak-sing, the Secretary for Home Affairs, will be visiting Taiwan soon in the capacity of being an honorary chairman of a religious organisation. He is visiting Taiwan in that capacity; that also is the first for the Hong Kong Government.
Reporter : Will you be extending an invitation for visit to Mr Ma (Ying-jeou) who was of course born in Hong Kong, and has expressed the desire to come again?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: As I have said previously, if Mr Ma were to visit Hong Kong, as he is the leader in Taiwan, it would be a matter of great interest not just to Hong Kong but also to Beijing. We will have to consider that matter in the round.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, March 24, 2009