|Government responds to remarks on Hong Kong-Taiwan relations
In response to media enquiries over the statement attributed to Mr Yang Jia-jiunn of the Chung Hwa Travel Service in a press interview published in a newspaper report today (February 14), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said the following:
"Exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan, including those in the political arena, have achieved significant progress in the past few years. Mr Yang's statement does not reflect the actual overall situation.
Our trade, tourism and other links with Taiwan have continued to grow over the past few years. Taiwan is our fourth largest trading partner. In 2006, bilateral trade amounted to HK$240 billion, up 13% from 2005. There were, on the average, over two million Taiwan visitors to Hong Kong each year in the past few years. To offer a more convenient and timely platform for entry application, we introduced the iPermit application service in 2002. We further adopted a new arrangement in June 2006, so that holders of ‘Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents’, commonly known as ‘Tai Bao Zheng’ (台胞證), which bears a valid entry/exit endorsement for the Mainland, may visit Hong Kong and stay for up to seven days provided normal immigration requirements are met. The new arrangement allows Taiwan residents to plan their visits more flexibly, which in turn, promotes exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
As far as contacts between Hong Kong and Taiwan in the political arena are concerned, in the past few years, we have received members of the Taiwan legislature, including those from Pan-Blue and Pan-Green camps. Apart from attending public forums and activities, these visitors were also received by high-level HKSAR Government officials. We have also received a number of officials at the county and city levels of Taiwan, including delegations led by the Mayor of Taichung city, the Taipei city council and other public institutions. Visits to various Government bureaux and departments were arranged for them to exchange views and experience. We have also assisted in arranging dozens of delegations from Taiwan comprising the media, professional bodies, businessmen, students and academia to visit Hong Kong with a view to enhancing their understanding of the SAR.
The HKSAR Government conducts its relationship with Taiwan under the 'One China' principle and is guided by the 'Qian Seven Principles'. As in the past, we are committed to continue to promote a robust and interactive relationship between Hong Kong and Taiwan in a positive and constructive manner. We urge Mr Yang and his organisation to complement this effort proactively."
Ends/Thursday, February 14, 2008