March 1th 2012
The National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will be convened in early March. The NPC deputies and CPPCC members of the DAB will make the following suggestions, concerning developments in China and cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland to the meetings:
1. To cooperate on addressing the challenges stemming from pregnant Mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong
Recently the challenges of pregnant women from the Mainland giving birth in Hong Kong have caused concerns in both Hong Kong and the Mainland. We suggest:
1.1 Both the Mainland and Hong Kong setting up clear policies to prevent women who have been pregnant for a certain period of time from travelling to Hong Kong unless they have a confirmed booking certificate from a hospital in Hong Kong or another acceptable special reason. If a Mainland woman is pregnant when entering Hong Kong, she should report her condition to immigration authorities in the Mainland and clearly state that she is not travelling to Hong Kong for the purpose of giving birth. In addition, brokerage service providers in these matters should be strictly regulated.
1.2 Researching thoroughly for solutions to these challenges, including urging the NPC Standing Committee to issue an interpretation of Article 24(2) of the Basic Law to fulfil its original legislative purposes.
2. To aid small and medium enterprises
Given that many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across China have been suffering in the past year, helping them to regain profitability is an essential interest of every level of governments. We suggest:
2.1 Carefully evaluating the impact of various current policies and initiatives relating to SMEs to ensure they help SMEs. For government levies and other administrative fees, enterprises should be charged according to four different scales in accordance with the ‘Standards for the Division of Medium and Small Enterprises’.
2.2 Examining the feasibility of introducing a credit guarantee program to support the development of SMEs. Providing a certain amount of tax discounts for SMEs’ expenses in order to enhance their internal financial systems. Encouraging the establishment of a credit assessment mechanism and credit database for SMEs.
3. To foster the liberalization of trade in services from the Mainland to Hong Kong
During his visit to Hong Kong in August 2011, Vice Premier Li Keqiang expressed that, with the help of CEPA, the Mainland and Hong Kong will achieve liberalization of trade in services by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan. In this regard, we suggest:
3.1 Mapping out concrete goals to ‘achieve liberalization of trade in services’ including targets in stages, providing development opportunities for SMEs in Hong Kong and Macau.
3.2 Pioneering the liberalization of trade in services in newly developing districts such as Qianhai, Hengqin, Nansha and other cities in Guangdong. Exploring new modes of cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau governments and new tax arrangements that attract Hong Kong and Macau professionals to these newly developing districts.
4. To expand the RMB business in Hong Kong
To consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an offshore RMB centre, we suggest:
4.1 Relaxing the restriction on the amount and scope of investment for Hong Kong banks to invest in inter-bank loans in the Mainland, as well as permitting them to invest in insurance and fund sectors;
4.2 Issuing more RMB bonds with varying terms in Hong Kong to complement the yield curve;
4.3 Permitting A shares to be listed in Hong Kong in the form of exchange-traded funds denominated in RMB;
4.4 Permitting RMB inter-bank borrowing between banks in Hong Kong and the Mainland; and
4.5 Gradually relaxing and eliminating the limits on the amount of RMB transfers and HKD to RMB exchanges.
5. To guarantee appropriate medical care for Hong Kong citizens residing in Mainland
To help elderly Hong Kongers residing in Mainland obtain necessary medical care, we suggest the two authorities coordinate efforts to establish an elderly healthcare scheme for Hong Kong citizens in the Mainland, providing appropriate medical care in a systematic manner. Such a scheme and its arrangements could be pioneered in Guangdong Province. In addition, we suggest leveraging initiatives arising from CEPA to bring opportunities for more Hong Kong physicians to work or open their own clinics and hospitals in the Mainland.
6. To protect the rights of vulnerable groups and promulgate laws for public assistance
Public assistance is the governmental provision of a minimal level of support given to citizens who are unable to maintain the minimum standard of living due to personal, family, social or other causes through the redistribution of national income. Illnesses, natural disasters, personal conflicts and the gap between rich and poor have caused many citizens or their families to suffer from severe physical or property losses. It will be almost impossible for them to provide for themselves entirely by their own efforts and the existing charity channels. Therefore, we urge the central government to promulgate laws for public assistance to protect the rights of vulnerable groups and minors as well as help address social conflicts.
7. To help Hong Kong associate degree graduates further their education in college and universities in the Mainland
In order to encourage Hong Kong associate degree (AD) graduates to further their education in the Mainland, we suggest that the education system recognize the diploma of AD in Hong Kong by allowing AD graduates to attend universities in the Mainland according to their academic results and exempting them from taking some courses or credits. We also suggest that education departments on both sides work together to promote the benefits of hiring Hong Kong associate degree diploma-holders to Mainland enterprises and employers.
8. To advocate readiness to help others and foster a healthy social environment
Last year, a tragic event in the Mainland stirred the sentiment of the Chinese people: a 2-year-old girl was knocked over by two vans as she wandered into a street while a dozen indifferent passers-by failed to help her. To advocate the readiness to help others and contribute to society, we must establish a well-rounded legal system to protect the interests of those who actively offer help. We suggest expanding our recognition and incentive system for courageous helpers as well as providing appropriate protection of the helpers through legislation, such as waiving charges for negligence and other civil liabilities in the event of emergency judgments and measures. Such steps help create a healthy social environment.
9. To strengthen the regulation of land expropriation and implement government administration in accordance with the law.
The mass protest that broke out last year in Shanwei, Guangdong attracted wide attention. Public indignation followed after certain government personnel violated applicable rules and regulations in land expropriation and land use or even committed embezzlement and corruption. Given the shortage of national land resources, we suggest better use of land resources and the protection of people’s rights and interests. It is therefore essential to strengthen regulations concerning the administrative behaviour of governments at various levels regarding land expropriation and more severely punish those who break the law. These measures are necessary to avoid the escalation of conflicts between officials and people and avoid damage to social harmony.
10. To innovate the models for joint operations in legal services between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
According to Supplementary Agreement VIII to CEPA, the models for joint operations in legal services between Hong Kong and Mainland should be explored and improved. We suggest that the Mainland branches of Hong Kong legal offices be permitted to hire certified Mainland lawyers to engage in legal affairs while the joint operations between law offices of Hong Kong and the Mainland be allowed to take the form of a limited liability company. Pilot programs could be pioneered in newly developing districts such as Qianhai, Hengqin and Nansha.
11. To pay attention to pollution problems in rural areas and intensify prevention and treatment efforts.
Due to a lack of awareness about environmental protection among rural residents, a large quantity of house waste has piled up outdoors with no one to clear it. In addition, illegal agricultural and industrial production activities have directly discharged waste and pollutants or even hazardous substances. All these problems have posed a severe threat to the well-being of local villagers. The government should allocate special funds to solve the problem and intensify law enforcement. It should make progress in the prevention and treatment of pollution in rural areas by improving the production method, waste discharge facilities, publicity and education work and institution-building relating to these problems.
12. To set a uniform emission standard for vessels from Hong Kong and the Mainland
Vessel emission has become a major source of air pollution in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. In order to improve air quality in the region, we suggest developing a 10-year action plan for the improvement of air quality in waters near the Pearl River Delta, outlining specific indicators for air quality at different stages, including a uniform standard for the emission of air pollutants from various vessels and the range of emission reduction; promoting a wider use of more environmentally friendly energy resources by vessels in the inland rivers and the harbour districts across the region; implementing relevant rules and regulations for ocean-going vessels to switch to cleaner fuel while at berth; and supporting the establishment of emission control areas in waters near the Pearl River Delta.
13. To remove the perils of smuggled waste
To effectively remove the perils of smuggled waste, we suggest customs authorities set up a special inspection lane to examine declared and imported recycled materials and exact tougher punishment on the smuggling of illegal waste. We suggest formulating better regulations on the issuance of certificates for business operations of recycling processing enterprises. Local governments should promote the diversified development of the local economy rather than rely excessively on the recycling processing industry. Operators of online shopping platforms should enhance supervision of the sources of goods sold via their respective platforms and block online sales of smuggled waste.
14. To protect the tropical rain forest in Hainan and give priority to preservation of the ecological environment of this international tourist island
The tropical rain forest in Hainan is the largest and only island-situated tropical rain forest eco-system in China, thus possessing high eco-value. However, some studies show that, in the past 10 years, about 1.08 million mu of the rainforest have disappeared in the mountainous areas of Hainan. The main reason for such loss is that the plantations of pulp-and-paper forests, rubber forests and cash crops have eroded the land supporting natural forests. We suggest carrying out a field investigation on the illegal plantation of pulp-and-paper forests in natural reserves, protection zones of natural forests and water conservation forests and calling a halt to all new plantation projects. We should formulate scientific and sustainable plans for the recovery and reconstruction of tropical natural forest eco-systems given the local ecological and environmental conditions. We should also designate enforcement departments and work out a timetable for such a plan.
15. To expand investments for ecological agriculture in rice farming
The application of ecological agricultural technology can reduce environmental pollution and safeguard food safety. However, state financing systems have not approved special funds for ecological agriculture, and scientific research in this area has thus far been severely inadequate. We suggest, therefore, substantially increasing funds for ecological agricultural technology and providing special support to study models of rice ecological agriculture and related technology. We suggest gradually reducing investment in the research of genetic modification and shifting the focus to the safety of genetically modified organisms. We may re-direct resources from price subsidies for pesticides and fertilizers to rice ecological agriculture and increase policy subsidies for ecological agriculture in general. We can promote integrated demonstration and application of existing technology and models of rice ecological agriculture, such as feeding ducks and fishes in rice fields.
16. To establish regulations for place names in rural areas in China
As important symbols and locators of information, place names have not received sufficient attention, especially in rural areas. Some townships do not even bear an official name. This not only causes confusion and inconvenience to tourists but also creates obstacles in developing these places. To accelerate and strengthen further development of rural areas, we suggest the government regulate by legislative measures the indication of place names in rural areas, including clear, specific working methods, references and procedures for naming places. These efforts should be promoted nationwide.
17. To promote the development of new industries in Hong Kong
Despite expensive rental costs, there is still ample room for the development of many industries in Hong Kong. For instance, the food manufacturing industry in Hong Kong still enjoys brand competitiveness in terms of food quality and safety, and the pharmaceutical industry also enjoys advantages in talent and technology. We suggest that state-owned or privately-run enterprises from the Mainland open factories in Hong Kong. In particular, for food manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries, we can build on their advantages if they run businesses in Hong Kong by strengthening cooperation with SAR government departments; helping Mainland enterprises run their businesses in Hong Kong; gaining market information and other forms of support; promoting their products overseas; and building their international brands.
18. To prohibit the extraction and sale of natural bear bile
Recently, the controversial topic of bile extraction from bears has raised wide public protests as this practice causes prolonged injury and pain to bears. We suggest prohibiting through legislative measures bear bile extraction and vendor activities in any form. We should strengthen law enforcement and punishment for illegal hunting, breeding and abusing bears where bile extraction is concerned. At the same time, we should invest in the research and development of substitutes for natural bear bile. By enhancing the quality of substitutes and promoting them in the market, we can raise public awareness of the substitutability of natural bear bile.
Media enquiries: Tam Yiu-chung (77700708) Ip Kwok-him (77700988)