Hong Kong 2003
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Working Relationship with the Mainland Authorities

Since reunification, the HKSAR Government has made significant progress in developing and maintaining a cordial working relationship with the CPG and other Mainland authorities. Through a wide range of exchanges, including visits, meetings, seminars and training programmes, various bureaux and departments of the HKSAR Government have enhanced mutual understanding with their Mainland counterparts. Some have also made arrangements to underline the commitment of both sides to cooperate in such areas as postal services, marine conservation and the fight against intellectual property piracy.

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) of the State Council plays the role of a facilitator and provides assistance to the HKSAR Government in developing official contacts with Mainland authorities. Liaison with the HKMAO is maintained on arrangements of visits by HKSAR Government officials and on other matters of mutual concern.

Article 22 of the Basic Law provides that no department of the CPG and no province, autonomous region, or municipality may interfere in the affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. The HKMAO continues to play the role of a 'gate-keeper' to ensure that the Mainland authorities at all levels conduct business with the HKSAR in line with this principle.

As the closest Mainland province, Guangdong has probably the most extensive network of communication with the HKSAR. For 22 years, the Cross-boundary Liaison System has provided an effective mechanism for Hong Kong and Guangdong to discuss and resolve practical issues of mutual concern, including the fight against cross-boundary crime and the regulation of the Shenzhen River. Cooperation with Guangdong was further strengthened with the establishment of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference (Joint Conference) in March 1998 by the HKSAR Government and the Guangdong Provincial Government in conjunction with the HKMAO. It provides a high-level forum to explore and coordinate major initiatives in cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong. On August 5, the Joint Conference held its Sixth Plenary meeting and announced a new cooperation framework and a structured long-term cooperation agenda. Under the new framework, the Plenary is to be chaired by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR and the Governor of Guangdong, and the implementation of cooperation initiatives to be spearheaded by the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong. Both sides will work towards a common objective to turn the Pearl River Delta region into one of the world's most vibrant economic hubs in the next two decades. To achieve this objective, 15 expert groups have been set up to take forward various cooperation initiatives which cover such matters as the implementation of the Mainland/HKSAR Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), control point operation, infrastructure, tourism, innovation and technology, education, intellectual property rights and environmental protection. Alongside the 15 expert groups, there are the Hong Kong Guangdong Strategic Development Research Group (Research Group) and the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council (Business Council). The Research Group undertakes to conduct research into subjects which have a significant bearing on Hong Kong/Guangdong cooperation while the Business Council is set up to facilitate discussion and exchanges between Hong Kong and Guangdong enterprise, trade and business associations.

Apart from the Joint Conference, the HKSAR Government and the CPG set up the Mainland/HKSAR Conference on the Coordination of Major Infrastructure Projects in January 2002 (Coordination Conference). The Coordination Conference is co-chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission to enhance coordination and cooperation between the Mainland and the HKSAR in transport and major infrastructure projects. It has held four meetings so far and has embarked on studies on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, logistics cooperation and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. (See Chapter 13: Transport for more details of these projects)

In October, the HKSAR Government and the Shanghai Municipal Government established the Hong Kong/Shanghai Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference to foster closer economic and trade ties between the two places, particularly to leverage on opportunities brought about by CEPA. This newly established forum, chaired by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR and the Mayor of Shanghai, held its first meeting on October 27. The two sides exchanged views on eight areas of cooperation and would continue to liaise closely to follow up on implementation of the cooperation initiatives.

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