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HK must sustain its role on the world stage
2012/06/26

--Commissioner Song ZheTalked about Central Government's Commitment to
Enhancing the SAR's International Edge on South China Morning Post

 

As the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong SAR and inauguration of the Foreign Ministry Commissioner's Office is being celebrated, Commissioner Song Zhe wrote an article for South China Morning Post and talked about foreign affairs concerning Hong Kong in the past 15 years. The full text of the article is as the follows:

Over the past 15 years, the commissioner's office of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong has not only upheld China's national interests, but also supported the Hong Kong government in conducting external exchanges and co-operation, protected the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong citizens overseas, helped to enhance Hong Kong's international influence and competitiveness, and contributed to the special administrative region's long-term prosperity and stability.

The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was set up on July 1, 1997, and the 15th anniversary of the handover is an opportune moment for us to reflect on our role and achievements so far.

We have worked hard to advance Hong Kong's external exchanges, promote its participation in international co-operation and increase its international influence. Specifically, we have helped the government establish and develop relations with foreign governments, promoted the SAR's advantages in conference and exhibition services and legal services, assisted in its bidding for and hosting of over 70 major international conferences and made arrangements for SAR officials to attend more than 1,400 international conferences as members of Chinese delegations.

In addition, we provided guidance to the government in enforcing over 90 UN Security Council resolutions, and authorised it to negotiate, sign or amend over 320 bilateral agreements with foreign states on civil aviation, judicial assistance, investment protection and so on.

With Beijing's support, Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director of health in Hong Kong, was elected twice as World Health Organisation director general, while Shun Chi-ming, director of the Hong Kong Observatory, was elected president of the Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology at the World Meteorological Organisation.

Guided by the principle of "putting people first", we have always regarded protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong citizens overseas as our prime responsibility. For 15 years, we have worked closely with the SAR government and Chinese diplomatic missions abroad and dealt with over 10,000 cases of consular protection. We handled a number of major emergency cases, including the hostage crisis in Manila and the evacuation of tourists stranded in Egypt.

Hong Kong is host to more foreign consulates than many other cities in the world. We support and assist foreign consular officers and representatives of relevant international organisations in their work. At the same time, we require them to respect the principle of "one country, two systems", observe international laws and codes of conduct and not interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs.

We have sought to build good relations with various local communities and initiated a range of programmes, including a forum on diplomacy and a summer camp for students from all the universities in Hong Kong. We have also established good relations with both local and international media.

Hong Kong's continued economic growth is important to us. We try to help fend off the negative impact of external factors. We also helped make arrangements for the SAR government officials to take part in G20 leaders' summits, lobbied to keep Hong Kong's seat in the Financial Stability Board, and went all out to ensure the Monetary Authority's participation in the Asean Plus Three's foreign exchange reserve fund. This has enabled Hong Kong to keep up with the world economic and financial situation and protect its economic and trade rights and interests.

After 15 years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has achieved a great deal in terms of external relations and played its due role on the world stage. We are confident that, with the central government's support and the joint efforts of the SAR government and the city's people, Hong Kong will have an even brighter future in engaging the world.

Song Zhe is commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong

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