Jiang Enzhu, director of the Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Branch, said on January 17 that it is quite natural for the Central People's Government to have a representative office in Hong Kong under a new name.
Jiang will be the newly-appointed director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Since China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in July 1997, Jiang said that the State Council decided to change the name to promote the "One Country, Two Systems" concept as well as "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong" and the Basic Law. The new name also guarantees the Central People's Government representative organ in Hong Kong to perform its duties accordingly.
Jiang said the State Council also decided to change the name of Xinhua News Agency Macao Branch into the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region for similar reasons.
The Hong Kong Branch continued to perform its duties in the region after Hong Kong's return to China in July 1997, Jiang said.
On December 28, 1999, the 24th Executive Meeting of the State Council made the decision to change the name of the Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Branch into the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR as of January 18, 2000, and officially notified HKSAR government, said Jiang.
"It is quite natural for the Central People's Government to have a representative organ in Hong Kong," Jiang stressed.
According to Jiang, the main duties of the new Liaison Office include maintaining contact with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the PLA Garrison in the HKSAR and helping relevant governmental departments on the mainland manage mainland organizations and enterprises in Hong Kong.
The Liaison Office will also promote cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland in a number of areas including education, science and technology, culture and sports and further develop exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong. Other functions include dealing with matters related to Taiwan and duties assigned by the Central People's Government.
All these functions, stressed Jiang, were performed by the former Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Branch.
The new office and staff will strictly follow the Basic Law and local laws, and perform their duties in accordance with these laws.
Jiang said that as the HKSAR is directly under the jurisdiction of the Central People's government, there is no subordinate relations between the HKSAR government and the office. His office will perform its duties strictly in accordance with the Central People's Government and abide by the policies of "One Country, Two Systems", "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy.
Jiang's office will support the HKSAR government's administration in accordance with the Basic Law and help maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Brach was established in May, 1947, with Qiao Guanhua as its first director.
After the founding of the People's China in 1949, the Agency was authorized to keep contact with the British Hong Kong government because it was not possible for the Central People's Government to establish a representative organization in Hong Kong under the British Hong Kong authorities.
From September 31, 1978, the Agency held an annual National Day reception inviting the Governor of Hong Kong to attend until China resumed sovereignty of the region in July 1997.
There have only been minor administrative changes at the Agency since July 1997. The Agency has continued to serve as one of the authorized agencies representing the Central People's Government as stated in the HKSAR government gazette on July 2, 1997. (Xinhua)