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Jul 04, 2011, No. 047

  • Date:2011-07-04

New Progress in Taiwan-Hong Kong Relations Taiwan's Hong Kong Office to be Renamed and its Functions and Status Upgraded


Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan announces formally at a press conference today (July 4, 2011) that the Taiwan government's representative office in Hong Kong, which has operated externally as the "Chung Hwa Travel Service" over the past 45 years, will be renamed as the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office." At the same time, the substantive functions and status of the Office will be upgraded. The Hong Kong government has also agreed to grant Taiwan's personnel stationed in Hong Kong preferential arrangements similar to those enjoyed by other diplomatic personnel. Minister Lai states that, in the future, Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong will be able to directly liaise with relevant agencies of the Hong Kong government in accordance with operational needs. Therefore, its functions and service performance as well as the relations with the Hong Kong government will be upgraded. At the same time, Taiwan's Executive Yuan has also granted approval for the Hong Kong government to establish the "Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office" in Taiwan, which represents a major advancement in Taiwan's relations with Hong Kong. It is an important achievement realized by the MAC through several intensive consultations with the Hong Kong government over the past eight months.


Minister Lai emphasizes that, due to the special space and time environment in the past, Taiwan's Hong Kong office has operated externally under the name of the "Chung Hwa Travel Service" since 1966. As a result, the Office has often been mistaken for a general private travel agency and unable to convey the fact that it is a government institution. Over the years, the Taiwan government has tried repeatedly without success to communicate with the Hong Kong side, both when it was still a British colony and later after it was handed over to mainland China and became a special administrative region. Therefore, the progress this time marks a rare historic achievement in the development of interactions between Taiwan and Hong Kong.


        The MAC states that Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang visited Taiwan in August last year to participate in the first joint meeting between the Taiwan–Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council (THEC) and the Hong Kong–Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council (ECCPC). During the visit, he called on Minister Lai. Both sides expressed great willingness to actively promote the establishment of a comprehensive Hong Kong office in Taiwan and the upgrading of the status and functions of Taiwan's office in Hong Kong, setting in motion talks between the two sides. Moreover, during exchanges with the ECCPC in Hong Kong, THEC Chairman Lin Chen-kuo has always expressed that the two sides should list this issue as a key matter for promotion. Since November last year (2010), the MAC has been in negotiations with the Hong Kong government over this matter. After several intensive consultations, the two sides have finally reached a major consensus true to the principles of goodwill, pragmatism, and reciprocity. This marks a new milestone in the positive development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations.

OLE_LINK14Regarding Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong—the Chung Hwa Travel Service, the Hong Kong government has agreed to the Office's renaming as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, effective from July 15 this year. It has also removed quota restrictions on the number of personnel allowed to staff the Office. The Office’s functions will include promoting exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong in economic and trade, investment, financial, commercial, cultural, educational, tourism, technology, transportation, shipping, medical, public health, and food safety areas. The Hong Kong government has also agreed to provide Taiwan’s Hong Kong office and its personnel with various operational courtesies, including exemption from salaries tax, reasonable lengths of stay, exemption from visa fees, airport and port restricted area pick-up and see-off transportation for major Taiwan officials or VIPs based on operational needs, and use of courtesy channels and facilities. Furthermore, the Hong Kong office of Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, currently named the "Far East Trade Service Inc.," and the Government Information Office's "Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center," can in the future be officially called the "Commercial Division" and the "Information Division" respectively of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office for operations in Hong Kong. They will enjoy the same relevant courtesies and can retain their registered names in Hong Kong in order to facilitate operational promotion.


On the other hand, Taiwan's Executive Yuan has also granted approval for the Hong Kong government to establish the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan, according to the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau. The Hong Kong government will dispatch incumbent personnel of appropriate levels to staff the Office, whose main functions will be to promote exchange and cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong in cultural, educational, economic, trade, technology, and other areas, as well as to assist in processing affairs related to the entry to Hong Kong by the people of Taiwan as needed.

The MAC states that, improvements in cross-strait relations over the past three years have further broadened Taiwan's international space and advanced relations with Hong Kong, enabling Taiwan to play a more active role in the activities of the international community and the Asia-Pacific region as well as to manifest the prominence of Taiwan's identity. All of these are the hard-won results achieved over the past three years.