The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG) and the People's Government of the Guangdong Province held the fifth meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference in Zhuhai today (March 15).
The two delegations were led respectively by the Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSARG, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Vice-Governor of the Guangdong Province, Mr Ou Guangyuan. The Director-General of Department of Exchange and Cooperation, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Zhang Liangdong, also attended the meeting.
Both sides satisfied with the achievements reached last year and in particular the cooperation in cross boundary controls and the extension of operating hours at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Control Points.
The meeting discussed at great length three items, namely the co-location of immigration and customs facilities, cooperation in tourism and the provision passenger ferry services connecting major ports of the Pearl River Delta region and Hong Kong International Airport.
Co-location of immigration and customs facilities
With the support from the Central Government and the relevant authorities, both sides agreed in principle to implement the co-location of immigration and customs facilities at the control points at Huanggang/Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen Western Corridor in order to further enhance the efficiency of clearance procedures.
The proposal of co-locating immigration and customs facilities at this stage is that the relevant authorities of both sides will use the site of the control point at Huanggang. They will carry out the immigration and customs clearance procedures in accordance with their own relevant laws and regulations. In implementing the plan, both sides must adhere to the "One Country, Two Systems" principle and uphold the independence and integrity of the immigration and customs arrangements in Hong Kong.
According to the agreement reached by both sides on co-location of immigration and customs facilities, the expert group comprising representatives from both sides will soon discuss and work out a concrete plan. It will also work out solutions to legal and jurisdiction problems. The Chief Secretary for Administration had indicated that the Government would discuss with the Legislative Council the proposal and any subsequent legislative amendments.
By using the existing hardware at the Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang Control Points to implement the co-location of immigration and customs facilities, the majority of coaches will be diverted to Huanggang Control Point to undergo clearance procedures required by both sides. This will leave all vehicle lanes at Lok Ma Chau free for clearance checks on goods vehicles. Such an arrangement will not only solve the problem of traffic congestion at Lok Ma Chau, but will also enhance the efficiency of clearance of goods vehicles. In addition, travellers will not have to get on and off the coaches as many times as before. Hence the clearance time will be reduced and better service will be provided for travellers.
Cooperation in tourism
On tourism, both sides were glad that since the increase of designated travel agents organising "Hong Kong Group Tour" and the abolition of quota for such scheme in January this year, the number of Mainland tourists, including tourists from Guangdong, to Hong Kong have increased significantly. Both sides agreed in principle to further co-operation in information systems. The experts of both sides will look at the specific proposal of a joint platform.
Mr Tsang expressed the HKSARG's concerns over number of serious traffic accidents involving Hong Kong tourists on the Mainland. He also sought through the Guangdong counterparts the policy and measures to prevent such accidents.
Passenger ferry services
The meeting discussed and reached consensus on developing passenger ferry services connecting major ports of the Pearl River Delta region and Hong Kong International Airport. Both sides were of the view that the provision of such passenger ferry services could strengthen the development of different modes of transportation between Hong Kong and Guangdong and the project was worth support.
End/Friday, March 15, 2002