Following is a speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the reception of the 14th Hong Kong-Kagoshima Conference today (November 11) (English only):
Mr Wakita, Mr Kitamura, Mr Kawahara, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I would like, first of all, to extend a warm welcome to the representatives of the Kagoshima Prefectural Government and speakers and guests, especially those who have come over from Japan. I also congratulate the Kagoshima Prefectural Government on the successful organisation of the 14th Kagoshima Conference in Hong Kong.
The biennial Kagoshima Conference provides a valuable opportunity for various organisations and government departments to exchange views on the promotion of two-way exchanges between Kagoshima and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong and Kagoshima have established exchange programmes in the areas of youth development, culture and sports, trade and industry, and tourism, since 1980. As an open and international city, Hong Kong attaches great importance to such exchange programmes. These programmes foster linkage and cooperation between Hong Kong and other cities.
I should like to highlight the progress and affirm the consensus regarding the exchange programmes in major areas, which has been generally agreed during the roundtable meeting today.
The sports exchange programmes between Hong Kong and Kagoshima have been started since 1983. Sports activities, such as hockey, basketball, kendo, badminton, table tennis, tennis, judo and handball, have been organised between the two cities over the years and would be continued. I am glad to learn that another sports event - volleyball has been chosen as the sports exchange programme that will target for teenagers in the coming two years.
In addition to the above mentioned sports activities, I would like to highlight that sand sculpture exchange programme between Hong Kong and Kagoshima has been conducted annually starting from 1989. In the last May, we sent two sand sculpture teams to participate in the Higashi-ichiki Town Harbour Festival. In return, it is our pleasure to have Higashi-ichiki town sand sculpture team coming again and taking part in our Sand Sculpture Exchange Programme this year that will be held at Shek O Beach on November 21. I am looking forward to meeting your team in Hong Kong and returning the hospitality.
Exchange of cultural programmes between Hong Kong and Kagoshima dates back to the 1980s. Numerous performing groups from Kagoshima have since visited and performed in Hong Kong and vice-versa. Last year the Show-gen-kai Koto Ensemble from Kagoshima visited Hong Kong and gave a joint concert with the Music Office Youth Chinese Plucked String Orchestra. Our Hong Kong Youth Strings has just returned from a five-day visit to Kagoshima in October. They participated in the Kids' Festa and a number of exchange activities with young musicians and students in Kagoshima. These cultural exchange activities have provided valuable opportunities for our young musicians to broaden their musical horizons as well as to enhance their understanding of the Japanese culture.
I am pleased to note that it has been agreed at the roundtable meeting today that Hong Kong will play host to a youth music group from Kagoshima in 2006, and I shall look forward to the return visit of a Hong Kong youth music group to Kagoshima in future.
Let me now turn to youth exchange programmes between Hong Kong and Kagoshima. Young people are the most important assets of our community. As we are living in an increasingly knowledge-based community in a global economy, we consider it important to ensure that young people be able to understand and tackle issues with an international perspective. The International Youth Exchange Programme -- a programme run by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in conjunction with the Commission on Youth -- seeks primarily to broaden the horizon and international perspective of young people through their participation in two-way exchange programmes with fellow young people from different places, including Kagoshima.
Over the past six years, Hong Kong has sent seven youth delegations to Kagoshima and received three youth delegations from Kagoshima. I would like to thank the Kagoshima Prefectural Government and related parties for their hospitality in welcoming our youth delegates. Under our exchange agreement, Hong Kong and Kagoshima would both send a 15-member youth delegation to visit each other for exchange purpose every two years from 2005 onwards. I am confident that these exchange programmes would continue to benefit the young people of the two cities. Our friendship and cooperation would continue to grow and thrive.
I believe Mr Ito and the Kagoshima Prefectural Government will agree with me that the exchange programmes I mentioned above have greatly strengthened the friendship and relationship between the two cities. I am confident that, with all useful comments presented in today's Conference, we will be able to continue with our close and constructive relationship in future.
Lastly, I should like to express my gratitude to Kagoshima Perfectural Government for organising this meaningful conference. We look forward to meeting you again in Kagoshima in 2006.
Thank you very much.
Ends/Thursday, November 11, 2004