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HK, Guangdong Step up Cooperation
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Hong Kong and Guangdong Province pledged to intensify cross-border cooperation in the Seventh Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in the SAR yesterday.

In the meeting co-chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui and Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Tang Bingquan, the two sides agreed that at the beginning of the 11th National Five-year Plan this year, the two places should step up cooperation in various areas.

They would include major infrastructure projects, facilitating cross-boundary flow of people and cargo, environmental protection, economic and trade and technology. This will be tied in with the future development of Guangdong, further strengthen Hong Kong's position as a shipping, financial and trade centre and enable both sides to grasp the opportunities arising from developments during the 11th Five-Year Plan period.

Major areas discussed by the two sides were:

Key infrastructure projects

Both sides noted that the planning of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the preparatory work of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge are well underway. Hong Kong and Shenzhen are now preparing for the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor and the new control point, hoping to wrap up the remaining works and open the new boundary crossing in the first half of 2007.

The two sides are also speeding up the construction of the new footbridge between Futian control point in Huanggang and the terminus of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. Its completion by the end of this year will be on time for the commissioning of the Futian control point and the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line next year.

Flow of people and cargo

Cross-boundary ferry service between Hong Kong International Airport and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) will be enhanced by, for instance, exploring new ferry routes.

The two sides will continue to prepare for the Dongguan-Hung Hom freight through train, and explore measures for extending the opening hours of inland control points in Dongguan to increase the efficiency of cross-boundary cargo flow.

Environmental protection

Both sides agreed to continue operation of the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network and the daily release of the Regional Air Quality Index to the public. The regional air quality report for the first half year is expected to be released in October.

The two sides will release details of the Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the PRD Region this year as scheduled for presentation to the power plants on either side of the border, so that prospective participants can identify trading partners and draw up emission trading agreements.

According to the agreed annual action plan, the environmental protection authorities of both sides will review the progress and effectiveness of the enhanced control measures in the PRD Regional Air Quality Management Plan, evaluate the trend of regional emissions and draw up corresponding strategies and follow-up actions, with a view to achieving the emissions reduction targets agreed upon by both sides by 2010.

Economic and trade cooperation

Among the further liberalization measures under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement announced last week, Hong Kong travel agents set up in Guangdong will be allowed to operate group tours to Hong Kong and Macao for residents in Guangdong on a pilot basis.

The two sides plan to organize a seminar in October, in which Guangdong officials will answer enquiries from Hong Kong businessmen regarding the policies and regulations governing the various service industries. To encourage the enterprises in Guangdong to set up business in Hong Kong, Invest Hong Kong will hold a "Hong Kong Investment Promotion Seminar" in Foshan in the second half of this year.

Technology and information

The Hong Kong and Guangdong governments will launch a new round of the "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" this month to support the research and development and application of six technology areas.

Town planning and development

Hong Kong and Guangdong will soon hold a conference on the subject of comprehensive transportation planning in Guangdong during the 11th Five-Year Plan period with the objective of enhancing exchange on planning information.

The two sides also vowed to continue co-operation in areas including prevention of infectious disease, food safety, tourism, education, civil service exchange, intellectual property rights, culture and sport.

Both sides agreed to meet again in Guangzhou in early August.

(China Daily HK Edition July 6, 2006)

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