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SCA receives Taiwan-based Alliance for the Reunification of China delegation

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, today (August 9) received a delegation of the Taiwan-based Alliance for the Reunification of China. Mr Lam said that he was happy to have the chance to receive the members of the Alliance this year again. He briefed the delegation on the recent developments of Hong Kong since our reunification with the Mainland.

Mr Lam told the delegation that the Hong Kong community fully supported reunification of the country. He said that the recent visits of the Kuomintang, the People First Party and the New Party to the Mainland had given the reunification process a new impetus.

He said, "Reunification would be an ideal arrangement. Firstly, reunification would remove all political uncertainties for Taiwan. Secondly, Taiwan would have a much broader scope for economic and trade development on the Mainland. Thirdly, Taiwan would have more latitude to function at international conferences and organizations.

"Since the reunification in 1997, the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle has been fully implemented in Hong Kong. The leaders of the Central Authorities have stated on different occasions that more flexibility will be exercised in dealing with Taiwan. In the past eight years, the successful implementation of the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle has not only solved Hong Kong's problems left over from history, but also created new room for further development for Hong Kong."

Mr Lam pointed out that, under the Basic Law and the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region could retain its World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership.

After the country's accession to the WTO, Hong Kong had concluded the "Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements" (CEPA) with the Mainland authorities. CEPA was a free trade arrangement, whereby Hong Kong products could enjoy zero tariffs when exported to the Mainland. "Individual Travel Scheme" had also been introduced.

Both CEPA and the "Individual Travel Scheme" had speeded up Hong Kong's economic recovery in the past two years. He hoped that the continued successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" in Hong Kong could contribute to the reunification of the country.

He added that after the Lien-Soong visits, the Central Authorities had announced a number of major initiatives. These included permitting individual Mainland visitors to visit Taiwan and allowing several categories of Taiwan fruits to be exported to the Mainland free of tariffs. These initiatives would be conducive to the economic development of Taiwan.

Mr Lam stressed that the HKSAR Government had all along been promoting exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Apart from receiving the Alliance's delegation, the Government had also assisted in arranging the visits of the Taipei City authorities, Taiwanese media and the Taiwan Federation of Industries.

Two weeks ago, arrangements were made for the Chung Hua Society of Law Science to visit the Department of Justice and Legal Aid Department to provide the delegates with a better understanding of the legal system and legal aid services in Hong Kong.

The Alliance for the Reunification of China was set up in 1998 with the aim of promoting peaceful reunification of China in Taiwan. The delegation to Hong Kong comprised 22 members.

Ends/Tuesday, August 9, 2005