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LCQ11: Measures facilitating Hong Kong people and enterprises in the development of careers and businesses on the Mainland

     Following is a question by the Hon Martin Liao and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Andy Chan, in the Legislative Council today (January 10):

     Quite a number of Hong Kong people have relayed that although Hong Kong and the Mainland are inextricably bound together by blood and there have always been close exchanges and ties as well as thriving economic, trade and other activities between the societies of the two places, Hong Kong people have encountered quite some difficulties in pursuing studies, taking up employment, doing businesses, setting up businesses, settling, etc. on the Mainland as they have not been accorded "national treatment".  Recently, a report made to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China pledged support for the integration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) into the overall development of the country.  It also stated clearly that priority will be given to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Bay Area), etc., thus fully advancing mutually beneficial cooperation between the Mainland and Hong Kong SAR, and that policies and measures will be formulated and perfected to facilitate the career development of Hong Kong residents on the Mainland.  Meanwhile, the governments of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong SAR and Macao Special Administrative Region have signed the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area, which aims to encourage an increase in investment between the Mainland and Hong Kong and Macao enterprises, encourage Hong Kong and Macao people to invest, set up businesses and take up employment in Guangdong, and provide more convenient conditions for Hong Kong and Macao residents to live on the Mainland.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that after conducting thorough researches and studies, the relevant Central authorities have earlier identified about 50 difficulties and problems encountered by Hong Kong and Macao residents in the areas of studying, working, living, etc. on the Mainland, and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council has in recent months announced one after another a number of policies and measures to facilitate the development of Hong Kong people on the Mainland (facilitating measures), whether the SAR Government knows which of such difficulties and problems have not yet been provided with corresponding solutions; if so, of the details;

(2) of the details of the views the SAR Government relayed to the relevant Central authorities and the follow-up actions taken in relation to matters related to the facilitating measures, and the outcome achieved;

(3) whether it will seek the introduction of more facilitating measures in the Mainland cities within the Bay Area under the "early and pilot implementation" approach, as so to assist Hong Kong people and enterprises in capitalising on the opportunities brought about by the Bay Area development; if so, of the details; and

(4) whether it will set up a dedicated platform to introduce and promote the various facilitating measures according to different policy areas, so as to facilitate Hong Kong people and enterprises to grasp the latest relevant information through the official channels of the SAR Government?



     Our consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Martin Liao is as follows:

     In his speech delivered on July 1, 2017 at the Inaugural Ceremony of the Fifth-Term Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), President Xi Jinping stated that the relevant Central Government departments would actively consider adopting concrete measures to facilitate Hong Kong people to study, work and live in the Mainland.  In the past few months, the HKSAR Government has been actively following up on the matter, including reflecting the aspirations of Hong Kong people to the relevant Mainland authorities at meetings with Mainland officials and through the day-to-day liaisons between the offices of the HKSAR Government in the Mainland (the Mainland Offices) and the relevant Mainland authorities.  The aim is to strive for the provision of more facilitation for Hong Kong people studying, working and living in the Mainland, thereby enabling Hong Kong people to capitalise on the opportunities brought about by the development of the country.

     The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council announced in August and December 2017 respectively two batches of policy measures to facilitate Hong Kong and Macao residents to develop in the Mainland, demonstrating in full the important direction of supporting the integration of Hong Kong into the overall development of the country as laid down in the report to the 19th National Congress.  The facilitation measures announced cover areas of education, employment, starting businesses and daily lives, etc., and allow Hong Kong people in the Mainland to enjoy in these areas the same treatment as residents of the Mainland.  Relevant new measures include:

(a) on education, it is specified in clear terms that to protect the rights and interests of Hong Kong and Macao students, Mainland higher education institutions and relevant authorities must accord equal treatment in terms of admission, nurture, management of and supporting services for Hong Kong and Macao students.  Furthermore, to facilitate their job search and employment, Mainland authorities also require higher education institutions to issue Employment Agreements and Employment Registration Certificates to students from Hong Kong and Macao upon their graduation.  For scholarships open to Hong Kong and Macao students as well as overseas Chinese students studying at Mainland higher education institutions, both the quota and amount have been increased;

(b) on employment, the people of Hong Kong and Macao working in the Mainland are allowed to join the Housing Provident Fund and enjoy the same treatment accorded to Mainland residents in terms of base deposit, deposit ratio, processing procedures, as well as the drawing of money from the Housing Provident Fund, and the application for personal housing loans under the Housing Provident Fund, etc.  People from Hong Kong/Macao leaving the Mainland and resettling in Hong Kong/Macao will be allowed to draw any unspent amount from their Housing Provident Fund accounts, thereby facilitating them to plan for the longer term and achieve personal development; and

(c) as regards daily lives, the China Railway Corporation has installed automatic ticket vending and issuing machines to read and verify Home Visit Re-entry Permits at train stations of various provinces and cities where there is relatively large demand for ticketing services from Hong Kong people.  These ticketing machines can reduce the amount of time otherwise spent on queuing and processing for tickets at the counter.

     Since the introduction of the two batches of facilitation measures by the relevant Mainland authorities, the Mainland Offices have, through various channels such as websites, WeChat public accounts, emails, etc., disseminated information in relation to the facilitation measures.  The Mainland Offices have also been in close contact with relevant Mainland authorities to promote the smooth implementation of the measures at the local level.

     By promoting Hong Kong-Mainland cooperation under the development strategy of complementarity and mutual benefits, and with the Mainland as hinterland, the HKSAR can, on one hand, leverage the abundant resources of the Mainland to promote Hong Kong's development; and on the other hand, by making use of Hong Kong's advantages, facilitate the further opening up, development of new industries and upgrading of professional standards of the Mainland.  It is along this very concept that the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Bay Area Development) is guided and steered.

     In future, the HKSAR Government will actively take forward the Bay Area Development strategy, seek policy breakthroughs, and foster the flow of people, goods, capital and information between Hong Kong and other cities in the Bay Area.  The HKSAR Government will also continue to actively reflect views to the relevant Mainland authorities, with a view to striving for the implementation of more facilitation measures that will help Hong Kong people develop in the Mainland and remove obstacles for their development, so that they can play to their strengths and seize the opportunities brought about by the development of the country.  In the meantime, the HKSAR Government will step up its efforts in disseminating information about the facilitation measures to keep Hong Kong people abreast of the latest development.

Ends/Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:00