Twentieth Plenary of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Hong Kong (with photos/videos)

     The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Ma Xingrui, leading the delegations of the HKSAR and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the 20th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Hong Kong today (November 18).
     The Chief Executive said, "At the 20th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference, Governor Ma Xingrui and I reviewed the progress of Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation over the past year and laid down the directions for co-operation for the coming year. Both sides considered that the implementation of the co-operation items under the 2017 Work Plan has made good progress. In future, the focus of Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation will be to take forward the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Bay Area) together. Governor Ma and I had in-depth discussions and exchanges on how to take Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation to the next level through the development of the Bay Area. Both sides agreed to further expand the 'early and pilot implementation' approach, take forward policy innovation and breakthroughs in major areas, foster the flow of people, goods, capital and information within the Bay Area, and set innovation and technology as the key direction for future development, with a view to developing the Bay Area into a world-class innovation and technology base. The two sides also agreed that the development of the Bay Area will bring enormous opportunities to the development of Hong Kong and Guangdong. We shall deepen our complementary co-operation in future, as well as actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, in order to make contributions to the development of the country."
     In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and the directions for future co-operation are set out below:
Development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area
     The HKSAR Government has all along been working closely with the Guangdong Government in drawing up the Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Development Plan) jointly with the National Development and Reform Commission. Both sides have already started discussions on taking forward the development of the Bay Area.
     The country will soon promulgate the Development Plan. Looking ahead, both sides agree to take forward the "early and pilot implementation" approach, take forward policy innovation and breakthroughs in major areas, and foster the flow of factors of production within the Bay Area. For instance, Guangdong Province supports the early implementation of facilitation measures for Hong Kong residents to study, work and live in the Mainland, thereby attracting more talents from Hong Kong to develop their careers in the Bay Area.
The Belt and Road Initiative
     The second Belt and Road Summit was successfully organised in September this year jointly by the HKSAR Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The Summit enhanced the trade and economic co-operation amongst economies and regions along the Belt and Road. Over 3 000 government and international organisation representatives and leaders of different sectors from more than 50 countries and regions took part in the Summit.
     On financial services, the HKSAR Government will continue to promote Hong Kong as the premier platform of capital raising and financing for Belt and Road projects, international asset management and risk management centres, and corporate treasury centre for multinational corporations.
     On legal services, the Department of Justice continues to encourage enterprises in Guangdong Province to choose Hong Kong as the neutral venue for resolution of investment and commercial disputes under the Belt and Road Initiative. As for exchanges on tourism, the Tourism Commission, together with the Hong Kong Tourism Board, has been co-operating with Guangdong Province and relevant tourism authorities to spearhead the development of "multi-destination" travel and carry out promotion and publicity work in markets along Belt and Road routes.
      In future, Hong Kong will continue to act as a facilitator for the Mainland in attracting foreign investment and "going global" by assisting Mainland enterprises, including those in Guangdong, to tap into the markets along the Belt and Road and attract foreign direct investment. For example, Invest Hong Kong will partner with relevant departments of Macao and Guangdong to organise investment promotion seminars overseas for promoting the combined advantages of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development. It also plans to liaise with the cities in the Bay Area to jointly organise investment promotion seminars overseas.
Innovation and Technology
     The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation has appointed a consultant for the overall strategic planning and the design of the master layout plan of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. It also established a subsidiary company, which is vested with the responsibilities to build, operate, maintain and manage the Park, in October this year. The subsidiary company has commenced relevant preparatory work. Hong Kong and Shenzhen will continue to take forward the project through the Joint Task Force.
     As regards the implementation of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme to take forward key collaborative scientific research projects between Guangdong and Hong Kong, 8 projects jointly funded by Guangdong and Hong Kong and another 8 projects jointly funded by Shenzhen and Hong Kong received funding this year, involving about HK$20 million from the Innovation and Technology Fund.
     In future, the joint effort by Hong Kong and Guangdong in building the Bay Area into an international technology and innovation hub will be a key cooperation area.
Youth Co-operation
     In 2017-18, the Home Affairs Bureau has provided funding of around $91 million through the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland to support some 120 youth internship projects in the Mainland. It is expected that about 3 500 Hong Kong young people can benefit from the scheme, including some 1 100 undertaking internships in Guangdong Province, which accounts for the biggest share among all provinces/cities of the country. In addition, two thematic internship programmes, namely, the Youth Internship Programme at the Palace Museum and the Youth Internship Programme at Wolong National Nature Reserve were successfully completed in August this year. These two programmes were joined by youth participants from both Hong Kong and Guangdong and enabled youth exchange between both places. It is also hoped that both governments will continue to co-organise the two abovementioned thematic internship programmes in the coming year.
     The HKSAR Government has set up the Youth Development Fund to support young people to start their own businesses and they may do so in Guangdong Province or other provinces/cities in the Mainland.  Besides, the HKSARG Government will continue to organise the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Summer Internship Programme", in collaboration with the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the People's Government of Guangdong Province, in the hope that more enhanced internship opportunities with special features would be made available from the Guangdong side.
Financial Co-operation
     The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect has been operating smoothly since its launch in December last year. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the Securities and Futures Commission will continue to enhance and deepen the mutual stock market access in the two places, such as exploring the possibility of including exchange-traded funds in the mutual access mechanism. On bond market, the People's Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority agreed to launch mutual bond market access in May this year, and the northbound trading was launched on July 3. On mutual establishment of financial institutions, CSRC approved two Hong Kong financial institutions in June this year to set up multiple-licensed Mainland-Hong Kong joint venture securities companies in Shenzhen and Qianhai respectively.
     Hong Kong will continue to explore with the relevant Mainland authorities to relax the restrictions for Hong Kong financial institutions to enter the Guangdong market, and to allow Hong Kong insurance companies to sell simple and standardised insurance products in the Guangdong Free Trade Zone as a pilot scheme.
Co-operation in Professional Services
     On legal services, 11 associations in the form of partnership have been approved to be set up between law firms in Hong Kong and the Mainland, with 7 in Shenzhen, 2 in Guangzhou and 2 in Zhuhai. Further, 12 barristers and 2 solicitors are retained as legal consultants by Mainland law firms in Guangdong Province. Under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), the HKSAR Government will continue to seek the extension of the geographical scope of this "pilot measure" from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai to cover the entire Guangdong Province in the coming year.
     On construction and related engineering services, the Development Bureau and Hengqin Management Committee signed a co-operation agreement in August this year. A working group will be set up to extend the co-operation and liberalisation measures being implemented in Qianhai to Hengqin. The Development Bureau will continue to collaborate with Mainland authorities for the arrangements on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Environmental Protection
     Both governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong started the mid-term review study in February 2015 with a view to concluding the emission reduction results of four major pollutants in 2015 and finalising the emission reduction targets for 2020. The study is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
     On the management of the marine environment, the Environmental Protection Department of the HKSAR has launched the notification and alert system on marine refuse this May for trial to perform real-time monitoring of the rainfall data of Hong Kong and 13 cities of Guangdong Province in the Pearl River catchment and to predict the coastal areas of the two sides which may be potentially affected by massive amount of marine refuse. Since the operation, the notification and alert system has activated seven times and issued notifications accordingly due to heavy rain, flooding or significant environmental incident.
     In view of the massive amount of marine refuse washed ashore this summer, both sides will review the existing arrangement and co-operation in tackling significant cross-boundary marine environmental incident, and explore measures to manage and reduce marine refuse.
Cross-boundary Infrastructure
     Construction works of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link are in good progress. The project is expected to commission in the third quarter next year, and will foster closer exchanges at the community level and economic ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
     As regards the negotiation of the cross-boundary transport arrangements for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), the three governments have agreed on the types and major arrangements for cross-boundary vehicles (including shuttle buses, cross-boundary coaches, cross-boundary hire cars, cross-boundary goods vehicles and cross-boundary private cars). The three governments are distributing the quotas in a progressive manner.
     In respect of regular quotas (i.e. double-plates) for Guangdong/Hong Kong cross-boundary private cars, in light of the overwhelming responses, both governments have agreed to increase the number of quotas having regard to the smooth operation of the boundary control facilities and adjacent roads upon the commissioning of the HZMB. The exact number of quotas to be added will be announced after discussion of the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments.
Other Areas
     Apart from the above, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in other areas of co-operation such as CEPA, education, tourism, intellectual property rights, food safety, medical services, and social welfare.
Co-operation Agreement Signing Ceremony
     Seven co-operation agreements were signed after the meeting:
* Guangdong/Hong Kong Exchange and Training Cooperation Agreement on Labour Inspection and Law Enforcement;
* Agreement on Guangdong/Hong Kong Co-operation on Intellectual Property Protection (2017-18)
* Collaboration Agreement between Hong Kong Hospital Authority and the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province
* Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Higher Education Cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong
* Co-operation Arrangement on Technology and Innovation Exchange between Guangdong and Hong Kong
* Co-operation Agreement between Guangdong and Hong Kong on Enhancing Youth Exchange
* Agreement on Strengthening Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation in Construction and Related Engineering Services
The 20th Plenary
     The 20th Plenary was co-chaired by the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Ma Xingrui. Officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah; the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr James Lau; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan; the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Patrick Nip; the Director of the Chief Executive's Office, Mr Chan Kwok-ki; the Permanent Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Cheuk Wing-hing; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Roy Tang, and other relevant officials. At the meeting, Mr Cheung and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Lin Shaochun, together with other officials of the two sides, reported the progress and achievements made since the 19th Plenary Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference.

     Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Mr Huang Liuquan, and Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR Ms Qiu Hong, also attended the meeting as special guests.

Ends/Saturday, November 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:04