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Establishment of Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan

     The Government announced today (July 4) its plan to establish within this year the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office (the Office) in Taiwan to further promote long-term co-operation and exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The formal setting up of Hong Kong's multi-functional office in Taiwan signifies that the development of Hong Kong-Taiwan relations has entered a new phase.

     A Government spokesman said, "The Financial Secretary visited Taiwan in August last year in his capacity as the Honorary Chairperson of the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) to attend the Council's first Joint Meeting with the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Council (THEC), and met with senior representatives of the Taiwan authorities. During the visit, both sides reached consensus proactively on a wide range of issues, and the Taiwanese side welcomed Hong Kong to establish a multi-functional office in Taiwan. Over the past months, Hong Kong and Taiwan have conducted multiple rounds of discussion through the ECCPC-THEC platform. Consensus was reached recently, breaking new ground on exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

     "The functions of the Office will be similar to those of Hong Kong's Economic and Trade Offices in the Mainland. These include facilitating trade between Hong Kong and Taiwan, investment promotion and enhancing cultural exchanges between the two places, etc. The Office will also provide assistance to Hong Kong residents in Taiwan to the extent possible, and assist in handling matters relating to entry applications from Taiwan residents when necessary.

     "To facilitate multi-faceted co-operation between Hong Kong and Taiwan, staff of the Office will liaise with relevant authorities in Taiwan when necessary to discuss and study issues of mutual concern, with a view to further promoting exchanges between the two places. Both sides have also agreed in principle that our staff stationed at the Office could enjoy certain facilitation arrangements in Taiwan under the principle of reciprocity, which include reduction or exemption from salaries tax in Taiwan and access to restricted areas of airports and other ports of entry to greet and see off important visitors from Hong Kong when necessary, etc. At the same time, senior officials and other important persons from Hong Kong could also enjoy entry facilitation arrangements when visiting Taiwan."

     The Government spokesman said, "The HKSAR Government will seek funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council soon, such that the Office in Taiwan could be established as early as possible.

     "Since the Reunification, the Chung Hwa Travel Service and other Taiwan organisations in Hong Kong have continued their operations as in the past. With the establishment of a Hong Kong multi-functional office in Taiwan and in the spirit of reciprocity, we have agreed that the Chung Hwa Travel Service could change its name to 'Taipei Economic and Cultural Office' with effect from July 15 this year to reflect its functions. We believe that there will be more frequent interactions between Hong Kong and Taiwan and that the dimension of work will be deepened. Also, the work of Taiwan organisations in Hong Kong will continue to be strengthened."

     The Chief Executive proposed the establishment of the ECCPC in his Policy Address 2009-2010 to act as the counterpart of the THEC established by the Taiwan side, so as to provide a new platform for discussions on public policy-related issues between Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, acts as the Honorary Chairperson of the ECCPC. Mr Charles Lee, a member of the Executive Council, is the Chairperson of the ECCPC, while the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau serves as the Secretariat to the Council.

Ends/Monday, July 4, 2011

SCMA speaks on the establishment of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan