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Aug 30, 2010, No. 068

  • Date:2010-08-30

MAC Welcomes ECCPC Members Led by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Financial Secretary John Tsang and is Glad to See Taiwan and Hong Kong Further Deepen Exchanges

Chairman Lin Chen-kuo of the Taiwan–Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Cooperation Council (THEC) and Chairman Charles Lee of the Hong Kong–Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) today (August 30, 2010) jointly held the first joint conference and economic and trade forum. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) stated that the government welcomes all Taiwan-Hong Kong exchanges so long as they are beneficial to the development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations and in keeping with the law. Being the competent authority, the MAC welcomes greater momentum injected by the establishment of the THEC and the ECCPC into the positive development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations. It also expressed hope that this newly constructed communication platform can further deepen exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong on many levels in economic, cultural and other spheres.

The MAC indicated that last year (2009) Hong Kong was Taiwan's fourth largest trade partner, with a bilateral trade volume totaling US$30.6 billion and the number of two-way tourism visits exceeding 2.86 million person-times. This year (2010), the bilateral trade volume is estimated to top US$38.8 billion, and personnel contacts will surpass three million person-times. Moreover, the Taiwan-Hong Kong relations are extremely close in terms of financial, investment, transportation, education and cultural exchanges. These exchanges and contacts indeed need to be further reinforced. After nearly a year of contact and planning, the THEC and the ECCPC were established in May and April this year (2010), respectively. Since then, the two sides have met several times for working consultations. During the first joint conference held today, the two sides reached a consensus in principle on the future methods and areas of cooperation. An economic and trade forum was held later today under the theme of "Opening a New Chapter in Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Trade Cooperation: Opportunities and Challenges." Scholars and experts from both sides were invited to present speeches and hold discussions aimed at exploring possible future opportunities for cooperation. At the same time, the members of the cultural cooperation committees of the two sides also attended a tea party, during which they exchanged views and enthusiastically discussed future cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong on cultural events, innovative industries, tourism and the preservation of cultural assets.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Financial Secretary John Tsang, who led the ECCPC delegation, called on MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan this afternoon at the Council. Minister Lai first welcomed Secretary Tsang and the delegation on behalf of the MAC, then noted that Taiwan and Hong Kong should have more complementary advantages and bigger room for development in terms of historical ties, cultural background, social and humanity development, as well as actual contacts. Minister Lai stated that in view of current close ties between Taiwan and Hong Kong, an effective mechanism for handling related issues is needed in order to further strengthen the existing scale of exchanges between the two sides. Secretary Tsang expressed hope that through the new THEC-ECCPC platform, the two sides can deepen mutual understanding and jointly participate in and promote exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong side would work hard in goodwill and sincerity to continually build benign interactions between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

During the meeting, the two sides reached the following consensus on future exchange and cooperation items:

1. The two sides agreed to promptly begin consultations on Taiwan-Hong Kong air transport negotiations and cooperation on financial supervision and management issues. These issues are relatively mature and can be actively promoted, in the hope of achieving concrete results in the near future.

2. In order to meet actual needs, as well as realize the promotion of Taiwan-Hong Kong exchanges and make it more convenient for the people of Taiwan to visit Hong Kong, our side suggested that the function and status of its representative office in Hong Kong should be upgraded and that Taiwan visitors should be granted visa-free treatment to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong side replied with goodwill to these two suggestions and stated that it would seriously study and handle these matters.

3. The two sides agreed that in the next phase they would aim at medical and health cooperation so as to support public health safety on the two sides, as well as at mutual exemption of shipping enterprise income tax between Taiwan and Hong Kong to assist the development of Taiwan's and Hong Kong's shipping industries and upgrade Taiwan's status as an Asia-Pacific shipping hub. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation and exchanges in other areas, such as education, culture, customs affairs, and joint crime fighting.

4. The Hong Kong side said it hoped to set up a general office in Taiwan and planned to establish a Taiwan office of the Hong Kong Tourism Board in the near future. The MAC welcomed these moves and encouraged the Hong Kong side to promptly provide specific plans for follow-up study and promotion.