Transcript of CE's remarks at press conference (with photos)

    Following is the transcript (English portion) of remarks made by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at a joint press conference after he and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, co-chaired the Ninth Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference today (August 2):

Reporter: Basically a question on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.  You mentioned there is a breakthrough, the two governments reached a decision to separate all the immigration procedures instead of housing them all under one roof. Why would you call this a breakthrough because it's not quite in the interest of users because they now have to go through separate immigration procedures?

Chief Executive: It's the agreement which represents a breakthrough. It's an agreement on the way in which we deal with the Customs clearance system. We have also agreed on accelerating the work in preparation for construction of this bridge, and we have also agreed that as soon as we have obtained the approval of the central authority we will proceed with construction work. I think that represents an important breakthrough in our work. As far as Customs clearance is concerned, it will not be more cumbersome the way we have proposed to handle this. We must remember if we have clearance system of three authorities in one place, passengers still have to go through the respective Customs areas. What it means is that in future there will be separate Customs locations. In other words the procedures will be exactly the same but the locations will be somewhat different. It is to protect the security of the bridge which extends over a very strategic position on the Pearl River, spanning over 30 kilometres of the river. So for that reason we believe it is very important that any goods vehicle going through the bridge must go through Customs before entry. That's the reason we have agreed to the positioning of the three Customs areas at the entry points.

If you analyse what we have said, particularly on our determination to proceed with construction work, particularly on how we should be modelled on the alignment we have already agreed for the bridge, I think we are now seeing the end of the tunnel.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Issued at HKT 19:25