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Bill on HK Customs Office on Mainland Tops Legislative Agenda
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China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will begin the second reading of a bill which proposes the establishment of a Hong Kong customs office on the mainland at a five-day legislative session opening next Friday.

The bill was first submitted to the legislature in August and is one of the key issues for China's top lawmakers, according to sources close to the NPC.

They are also expected to voice their concerns over the anti-money laundering bill, the draft property law, draft amendments to the minors protection law and many other issues, the source said.

If it receives the endorsement of the legislature, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would be authorized to exercise its customs laws and regulations from offices in Shenzhen.

Located in Shenzhen Bay Port, the new customs port will be operational by the middle of next year and will be able to handle 58,600 vehicles and 60,000 passengers per day, previous reports said.

Chen Zuo'er, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the new customs port was designed to ease pressure on overloaded port facilities and to maintain the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Normally, a bill will be voted on after three rounds of reading at the Standing Committee of NPC.

(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2006)

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