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Hong Kong and Taiwan agree to set up new framework for fostering exchanges

     The Government announced today (March 31) that the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, will formally establish the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) on April 1. The Chief Executive has also appointed a number of key members of the ECCPC, including the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, as the Honorary Chairperson; Mr Charles Lee Yeh-kwong as the Chairperson; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, as the Executive Vice-Chairperson; as well as the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, and the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, as Vice-Chairpersons.

     A Government spokesman said, "High level representatives from various policy bureaux and relevant quasi-government organisations, including the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Security Bureau, the Information Services Department, the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourism Board will act as Directors of the ECCPC to oversee its work. The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will provide secretariat support to the ECCPC.

     "As exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan cover a wide spectrum of topics, the ECCPC will invite respectable leaders from relevant sectors to act as Advisors to provide professional advice and guidance to the work of the ECCPC where necessary. At present, the ECCPC has invited Professor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, Vice-Chancellor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a non-official member of the Executive Council, as an Advisor of the ECCPC.

     "Hong Kong and the Taiwanese sides have closely liaised with each other in the past few months to establish the new platform. With the concerted efforts of both sides, the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council (ECCC), i.e. the Taiwanese counterpart of the ECCPC, will also be established very soon. We welcome this development.

     "The Chief Executive will first establish the ECCPC by Order and appoint its key members, so as to engage the ECCC as soon as possible in discussions and negotiations on issues that are of mutual interest to both places. The HKSAR Government will incorporate the ECCPC as a limited company under the Companies Ordinance over the next few months. Incorporation of the ECCPC will provide it with legal person status. With the authorisation of the HKSAR Government, the ECCPC can engage the ECCC in discussions and negotiations on various public policy related issues, and to sign memoranda of co-operation and other relevant documents with the Taiwanese side.

     "At the corporate level, the Hong Kong-Taiwan Business Co-operation Committee (BCC), which comprises members of the local commercial sector and Taiwan businessmen in Hong Kong, will also be established on April 1. The BCC will act as the counterpart of the Economic Co-operation Committee of the ECCC and to foster exchanges on trade, investment and tourism between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Chief Executive has appointed Mr David Lie as the Chairperson of the BCC. At the same time, Mr Lie will also serve as a Vice-Chairperson of the ECCPC, so as to align the vision and work plan of the BCC and those of the ECCPC.

     "With the establishment of the new platforms, we expect to see multi-faceted and multi-level exchanges with Taiwan. For example, on the health portfolio, we can discuss with the Taiwanese side on issues such as public health, infectious disease, medical services, clinical trials and exchange of drug-related information, etc. On the financial front, Hong Kong and Taiwan can discuss enhancement of co-operation in financial regulation between the two places. On the issue of avoidance of double-taxation, we will continue to discuss with the Taiwanese side relevant arrangements relating to shipping income. We also plan to strengthen exchanges, liaison and co-operation with Taiwan in other policy areas, such as the services trade, tourism, sports and cultural exchanges, and notary services. From now on, we hope that Hong Kong and Taiwanese officials can exchange views on issues of mutual concern in appropriate capacities under this umbrella, and that both sides can look into areas where co-operation could be strengthened, so as to further promote high-level exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

     "The ECCPC and the ECCC plan to hold their first joint meeting in the coming months. In his capacity as the Honourary Chairperson of the ECCPC, the Financial Secretary hopes to lead a delegation comprising members of the ECCPC and the BCC to visit Taiwan within this year to attend meetings, to discuss issues on bilateral co-operation and to conduct visits, so as to foster exchanges between the two places.

     "Mr Charles Lee is a practising lawyer and a non-official member of the Executive Council. He was the first Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited and the Chairman of the Council of the Open University of Hong Kong, and is the incumbent Chairman of the Executive Committee of Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Limited. With his rich experience in handling public policy matters, well established position in society, and valuable knowledge in economic and cultural affairs, Mr Lee is the suitable candidate to push ahead the work and development of the ECCPC.

     "Mr Lie is an experienced businessman who possesses good knowledge of the markets in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has established extensive network in the three places. Mr Lie has also participated actively in public services and is currently serving on a number of advisory bodies. In recent years, he is active in promoting youth exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. He has organised large-scale exchange programmes and related activities to deepen the understanding of young people on the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. With his experience and enterprising approach, we believe that he will be able to enhance exchanges between the commercial sectors in Hong Kong and Taiwan."

     The ECCPC is an initiative put forth by the Chief Executive in his 2009-2010 Policy Address, with the aims of grasping opportunities arising from closer relations across the Straits, promoting Hong Kong's interest and long term development, and enhancing exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Although the ECCPC is not a government entity, the HKSAR Government will provide full support and resources to the Council to push ahead relevant work and activities.

Ends/Wednesday, March 31, 2010