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Taiwan to simplify visa procedures for Hong Kong people

The government will introduce simplified procedures for visa issuance for Hong Kong citizens in the near future, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said Monday. During a meeting in Taipei to promote economic and cultural cooperation between Taiwan and Hong Kong, Lai said that over the past century, civilian exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong have been active, even more so since the beginning of the 21st century, which she said has helped lay the foundation for economic and trade relations between the two sides.

In the aspect of economy and trade, Hong Kong is Taiwan’s fourth-largest trade partner, and two-way trade and the number of travelers between the two sides are expected to reach US$38.8 billion and 3 million, respectively, Lai said. Meanwhile, the number of China-based Taiwanese businesses listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has reached 60, and some leading Taiwanese companies now consider Hong Kong as the main place for raising business capital, Lai added.

She noted that with the aim of promoting civilian exchanges between the two sides, the government last year relaxed employment restrictions on Hong Kong students, allowing them to enroll in graduate programs after graduating from local universities, and also began extending the duration of stay on visas for Hong Kong-based Chinese citizens visiting Taiwan.

The government is also seeking to further streamline visa application procedures for Hong Kong citizens, Lai added. Despite the booming exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong, there are still some key details related to the exercise of public power to be addressed between the two sides, Lai went on. The meeting was the first of its kind between the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council (ECCC) and its Hong Kong counterpart, the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) , since they were set up earlier this year to improve and strengthen relations between the two sides.

Lai said she hopes the two sides will engage in talks on topics of mutual concern and enhance economic and trade exchanges and interaction through the forum. Also present at the meeting were Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang, ECCC Chairman Lin Chen-kuo and ECCPC Chairman Lee Yeh-kwong.