Agreements on cross-boundary infrastructure, food safety and assistance for Hong Kong-funded enterprises in the Pearl River Delta were some of the fruits of the 10th plenary session of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Joint Conference.
Other areas covered included energy conservation, social welfare and efforts to protect information technology and intellectual property rights.
The conference was co-chaired by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Donald Tsang and Guangdong Provincial Governor Huang Huahua.
In his speech, Tsang described the conference as very successful before going on to highlight key areas of cooperation and future plans.
He said the feasibility study for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is close to completion. In the next phase, the three governments involved will focus on picking spots for three checkpoints and sorting out financing for the project.
"I believe that through the efforts of the three governments and the central government's coordination, the feasibility study will soon be completed and submitted to the State Council for approval," Tsang said.
As for the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong rail link, the Hong Kong Government has decided to build a new, dedicated rail link instead of using a shared one as originally planned.
"A dedicated corridor provides a smooth rail link that connects with the national railway network and helps consolidate Hong Kong's position as the southern gate of China," he said. "The traveling time between Guangdong and Hong Kong will be reduced to less than one hour. The cost will of course be much higher, but there will be far bigger economic benefits."
On the subject of the safety of Hong Kong's food supply, Huang said Guangdong attached great importance to this matter and pledged closer oversight of food production, inspection and transportation. In addition, he said provincial authorities would communicate with their Hong Kong counterparts during food safety crises.
"I can assure our compatriots in Hong Kong that food imported to Hong Kong from Guangdong is safe to eat," Huang said.
For his part, Tsang said Hong Kong would enact a food safety law to regulate food importers and distributors.
The joint conference also discussed ways to help Hong Kong-funded enterprises operating in Guangdong to meet new environment-protection laws and regulations. While the province will phase out inefficient and polluting businesses, the two sides have agreed to set up a joint task force to help the affected enterprises adapt.
Tsang said protecting the environment was one of the major tasks of his third term.
(China Daily August 3, 2007)