|LCQ7: Cross-border committees
Following is a question by the Dr Hon David Li and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 6):
Regarding the various cross-border committees, established by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the relevant authorities in the Mainland, for discussing matters of mutual concern, will the Government inform this Council of :
(a) the names and terms of reference of all the committees and their sub-committees established to date;
(b) the names and offices of the representatives from each side on these committees and sub-committees;
(c) the full meeting schedules of these committees and their sub-committees in 2001; and
(d) the initiatives that will be taken to enhance the transparency of the operation of these committees and their sub-committees?
Bureaux and departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government have established various communication channels with their Mainland counterparts to discuss matters of mutual interest. Among these communication channels, there are at present three standing cross-boundary committees, viz the Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference, the Cross-boundary Liaison System, and the Hong Kong and Mainland Cross-boundary Major Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee.
The Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference provides a high-level forum for enhancing strategic co-operation with Guangdong. Cooperation items that have been discussed include environmental protection, tourism and implementation of a joint cheque clearance system, etc. It is jointly chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Government, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Vice-Governor of the Guangdong Province, Mr Ou Guangyuan. Composition of the delegations on the Hong Kong and Guangdong sides depends on the agenda of each meeting. The last plenary of the Joint Conference was held on September 25, 2000. The next plenary is expected to be held later this year.
Under the Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference, experts from both sides meet as necessary to discuss various matters. A Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection has been set up on a standing basis to step up cooperation on cross-boundary environmental issues. The Joint Working Group is chaired by the Hong Kong SAR Government's Secretary for Environment and Food, Mrs Lily Yam, and Director of Guangdong's Environmental Protection Bureau, Mr Yuan Zheng. Meetings are held on a regular basis. The Joint Working Group held its second meeting in February 2001.
Under the Joint Working Group, eight Special Panels have been established under the Joint Working Group to study specific projects. They are:
(1) Pearl River Delta Region Air Quality Special Panel
(2) Hong Kong-Guangdong Motor Diesel Fuel Specification Special Panel
(3) Hong Kong-Guangdong Afforestation and Conservation Special Panel
(4) Hong Kong-Guangdong Marine Resources and Conservation Special Panel
(5) Dongjiang Water Quality Protection Special Panel
(6) Pearl River Delta Water Quality Protection Special Panel
(7) Hong Kong-Guangdong Town Planning Special Panel
(8) Mirs Bay and Deep Bay (Shenzhen Bay) Area Environmental Management Special Panel
The Cross-boundary Liaison System provides a communication mechanism for the relevant authorities on the Hong Kong and Guangdong sides to resolve day-to-day operational issues affecting both sides of the boundary such as the fight against cross-boundary crimes and ensuring the smooth and efficient flow of vehicles and passengers across the boundary. The Annual Boundary Liaison Review Meeting is held at the beginning of each year to review the operation of the Cross-Boundary Liaison System in the past year. Delegation on the Hong Kong side is led by the Hong Kong SAR Government's Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Suen, and composed of representatives from Security Bureau, Transport Bureau, Hong Kong Police Force, Immigration Department and Customs and Excise Department. Other Bureaux or departments are represented on a need basis. The Guangdong delegation is headed by Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Guangdong Provincial People's Government, Mr Huang Ziqiang. Other government departments on the Guangdong side are represented on a need basis. The last Review Meeting was held on March 22, 2001. The next meeting is expected to be held in the beginning of 2002.
The Hong Kong and Mainland Cross-boundary Major Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) coordinates major cross-border infrastructural projects between Hong Kong and the Mainland. ICC is jointly chaired by the Secretary for Planning and Lands of the Hong Kong SAR Government, Mr Gordon Siu, and the Director-General of Exchange and Cooperation of the Hong Kong and Macao Office of the State Council, Mr Zhang Liangdong. The ICC has not yet scheduled any meeting in 2001.
Under the ICC, one Expert Group and two Panels have been formed, namely, the Expert Group on Huanggang/Lok Ma Chau Passenger Crossing which coordinates the implementation of a rail passenger crossing at Huanggang/Lok Ma Chau; the Roads and Bridges Panel which considers new cross-border links; and the Panel on Marine Channels which examines cross boundary marine channels including the proposed Tonggu Channel project.
Under the Expert Group on the Huanggang/Lok Ma Chau Passenger Crossing, a Joint Working Group was established in mid-2000 to take forward the implementation of the passenger footbridge crossing. The last Joint Working Group meeting was held on March 6, 2001. Two more meetings are expected to be held in 2001. The Roads and Bridges Panel has not yet scheduled any meeting in 2001 but experts from the two sides will continue to have informal discussions. The Panel on Marine Channels has not yet scheduled any meeting in 2001.
Press releases announcing the date, venue, items to be discussed and leaders of the Hong Kong and Mainland delegations are issued prior to the meetings of these cross-boundary committees. After each meeting, delegation leaders on both sides will hold press briefings and answer media questions. These arrangements do not apply to meetings at the expert level for discussing operational and technical matters.
End/Wednesday, June 6, 2001