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Old September 26th, 2004, 09:09 PM   #1
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Foreign Affairs

Copyright 2004 South China Morning Post Ltd.
September 26, 2004

Chirac to make first official HK visit
Niall Fraser

Jacques Chirac will visit Hong Kong next month, marking the first official visit to the special administrative region by an incumbent French president.

He will spend several hours in the city after a state visit to the mainland, where he will meet the central government's leadership.

Mr Chirac has been to Hong Kong many times in a private capacity and is expected to meet Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa as part of his official programme, French consulate spokesman Francois Fenster-Bank said.

The French president is due to arrive in Beijing on October 9 and come to Hong Kong on his way home.

His three-day trip to the mainland, which follows an Asia-European co -operation meeting in Vietnam, is part of a two-year programme of cultural exchanges that began last year with a "Year of China in France" celebration and continues this year with a "Year of France in China".

Mr Chirac will hold talks on investment while in the mainland.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 02:16 AM   #2
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Chirac in Hong Kong as Asian tour winds up
Tue Oct 12, 3:58 AM ET

HONG KONG, (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac has arrived in Hong Kong on the first official visit here by a French leader, rounding off an Asian tour that has won billions in trade contracts and avoided confrontation with China over thorny political issues.

The French president touched down just before 2:00 pm (0600 GMT) and is scheduled to spend just seven hours in the former British colony before jetting back to Paris.

During his whistle-stop visit Chirac will meet Hong Kong's political leader Tung Chee-hwa and members of the French business community.

His only public engagement will be the unveiling for the first time in Asia of a huge painting by Picasso, the famed "Parade", lent to Hong Kong by the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

The exhibition is being held to coincide with the announcement of the prestigious contemporary art institute's bid to open a modern art museum in the city.

Hong Kong had previously been left off the Asian itineraries of visiting French leaders because of diplomatic protocol preventing a head of state visiting a colonial territory of a rival power, the French consulate general said.

The city became a semi-autonomous Chinese territory when sovereignty was handed back to China in 1997.

Chirac's Hong Kong stop is intended to be a relaxed affair to round off a busy four-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai during which he met China's top leaders and signed billions of dollars worth of trade deals.

He had also promoted a culture agenda, pushing art events coupled with the "Year of France in China" festival, a year-long cultural exchange that began Sunday.

His Asian tour began with a stopover in Singapore, before moving on to the Asian European Meeting in Hanoi last week.

Following a weekend summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Chirac met Premier Wen Jiabao and parliamentary head Wu Bangguo on Sunday.

The trip has also been marked, however, by the French leader's reluctance to broach the contentious issue of China's poor human rights record and its suppression of democray on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

He has been criticised by human rights groups for not sharing his fellow European Union (news - web sites) leaders' concerns about other political issues, especially Beijing's frosty relations with Taiwan and how it will deal with attacks on freedom of expression in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In an apparent attempt to quell the growing chorus of criticism, Chirac alluded in a Monday speech to the need to respect basic rights and democracy.

France hoped "to see equivalent progress in the state domain on rights and democracy to accompany the progress in the economy and society," he said.

His visit has won praise in China, nonetheless, where the press hailed his efforts to lift the EU arms embargo placed on China following the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy protesters.






French President Jacques Chirac (3rd L) speaks as his wife Bernadette (5th L) looks on after Chirac unveiled Pablo Picasso's 'Parade' at Hong Kong's Two IFC shopping mall October 12, 2004. 'Parade', one of Picasso's most famous works, is on loan from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, has only been on public display 10 times in over 50 years and this is the first time it has been shown outside of a museum environment. After the Hong Kong exhibition, 'Parade' will 'rest' for 20 years before another public appearance. REUTERS/Bobby Yip



French President Jacques Chirac (L) meets Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa at the Government house, October 12, 2004. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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Old January 20th, 2005, 12:04 AM   #3
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Foreign Dignitaries Visiting Hong Kong

Israeli Vice Prime Minister to visit HK

Israeli Consulate Website Hong Kong

Israel's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade & Labour Ehud Olmert will pay an official visit to Hong Kong on January 19 and 20.

Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa and Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang will meet with Mr Olmert on Thursday.

During his stay here, Mr Olmert will meet with local business people and the Jewish community.

Hong Kong is one of the most important trade partners of Israel in Asia. A record of 72 Israeli companies have now established their regional headquarters in the Hong Kong SAR. Mutual trade between Israel and Hong Kong has grown significantly in the past half year with an increase of 20 per cent in hi-tech exports and another 20 per cent increase of imports. In 2003, Hong Kong has a 2.4 billion USD mutual trade with Israel.



Irish Prime Minister to visit

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern will arrive in Hong Kong on January 21 for an official two-day visit.

Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa and other Government officials will meet the Prime Minister that evening, and hold a banquet at Government House.

The Prime Minister will also meet with members of the local and Irish business communites at a breakfast meeting on January 22.

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Old January 20th, 2005, 10:38 AM   #4
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WOW!!! It seems that hong kong is busy in those cnsecutive 3 days. ALso, are there other diplomatic visits planned from other countries for this year so far?
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Old January 21st, 2005, 01:59 AM   #5
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Are they just visiting HK or just an Asian trip plan, just a stop in HK? Woo Irish Prime Minister coming to HK, should be good~Hope the government can do things that benefits HK during these visits...

cooperation and peace~
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Old January 21st, 2005, 05:57 PM   #6
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Typically, foreign dignitaries visit a series of cities and countries and Hong Kong is one of many stops.

January 21, 2005
CE meets Irish Prime Minister

Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa has met visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, encouraging more Irish businesses to use Hong Kong as their base for entering the Mainland market.

Mr Ahern, accompanied by Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment Michael Martin and Minister for Telecommunications, Marine & Natural Resources Noel Dempsey, is on a two-day trip to Hong Kong.

Mr Tung met Mr Ahern tonight and spoke of Hong Kong's significant role in the Mainland's economic development.

"Hong Kong hosts the largest Irish community in Asia. We are particularly thankful for the enormous contribution that the Irish community has made towards the development of education in Hong Kong," Mr Tung said, adding they will both push for enhanced co-operation.

They reviewed progress in bilateral co-operation, discussed the latest developments in both places and ways to strengthen ties not only in economic and trade areas but in education, information communication technology, taxation, justice, transport, culture and civil service exchange.

Working holiday scheme

Mr Ahern welcomed the opportunity for closer collaboration particularly in the area of software and telecommunications, education and engineering services.

"This is in line with the Irish government's Asia strategy which has been in place for the past six years. The strategy has contributed in a significant way to the development of our relations with Hong Kong, Mainland China and other Asian countries," he said.

Mr Tung and Mr Ahern witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Working Holiday Scheme. The two sides also initialled an Agreement on the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders.

Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang will accompany Mr Ahearn to visit Wah Yan College which was founded by Irish Jesuit priests. A pilot programme for the exchange of secondary school students between Ireland and Hong Kong will be set up.

Mr Ahern will also meet the local Irish community and attend a Gaelic football match tomorrow at Happy Valley.


HK signs Working Holiday Scheme with Ireland

Hong Kong and Ireland today (January 21) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which marks the establishment of a new bilateral Working Holiday Scheme to benefit the young people of both places.

The MOU was signed by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour of Hong Kong, Mr Stephen Ip; and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment of Ireland, Mr Micheal Martin.

The scheme enables young people from both places to stay up to 12 months in each other's territory for holidays and short-term employment. Participants may take up temporary jobs for not more than three months with any one employer during their stay.

The scheme will come into effect on March 1 this year. There will be 100 visitor places each year available for both sides.

"The scheme will provide invaluable opportunities for our young people to gain exposure to a different culture and get work experience. I encourage our young people to make good use of this worthwhile scheme," Mr Ip said.

"It will also strengthen bilateral ties between Hong Kong and Ireland and help tourism both ways," he added.

To obtain a working holiday visa for Ireland, an applicant has to fulfil the following eligibility criteria:

* Be an ordinary resident of Hong Kong and possess a valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or British National Overseas passport;

* Be aged 18 to 30 and intend primarily to holiday in Ireland;

* Have the means to pay for his/her return journey and be able to maintain himself/herself while in Ireland; and

* Hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance during his/her stay in Ireland.

The application procedures for the scheme will be announced later.

Hong Kong put in place a similar scheme with New Zealand and Australia in April 2001 and September 2001 respectively. Eligible applicants may approach the relevant consulates for application forms and enquiries about details of the scheme.
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Old January 21st, 2005, 05:58 PM   #7
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Canadian Prime Minister to visit HK

The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Paul Martin, will be in Hong Kong on Saturday (January 22) for an official two-day visit.

The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, and government officials will meet with the Prime Minister in the evening on January 22. A banquet will follow at Government House.

During his stay, the Prime Minister will also meet with local and Canadian businessmen at a reception. He will attend a remembrance service for those who died in the defence of Hong Kong at Sai Wan War Cemetery on January 23.
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Old January 21st, 2005, 06:14 PM   #8
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How come the Working Holiday Scheme had to be signed after I left Ireland...haha. Ah but thats ok, I have done some work experience in Ireland and they are quite nice~

now I am in Canada! Hope the prime minister of Canada would give us some good stuffs~~

thx hkskyline for the info~
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 11:52 PM   #9
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Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin upon his arrival in Hong Kong Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005. Across the globe in China on a trade mission, Martin said he would stake his leadership on defending the right of gay couples to wed under Canada's Charter of Rights, the country's 1982 counterpart to the U.S. Bill of Rights. (AP Photo/CP/Tom Hanson)





Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (L) meets Chief Executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee-hwa in Hong Kong, January 22, 2005. It is Martin's last stop on an eight-day, five country tour of Asia. REUTERS/Jim Young



Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, left, and his Canadian counterpart Paul Martin shake hands at the start of their meeting in Hong Kong Saturday. The two prime ministers are both in Hong Kong for two days visits as the last leg of a visit to China. (AP/Anat Givon)
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 07:13 PM   #10
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Martin pays tribute to Canadian soldiers killed in the battle of Hong Kong
Jan. 23, 2005


Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin lays a wreath at the Chai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong, Sunday. (AP/Anat Givon)

BRUCE CHEADLE

HONG KONG (CP) - Aubrey Flegg still remembers the thump of the bodies under his truck's wheels as he raced blind along Hong Kong's tortuous roads in a bid to rescue two wounded British women.

"There's about 250 men lying dead in the road," Flegg, 87, said Sunday in a cemetery that harbours some 283 fallen Canadians from 1941's brief and bitter battle of Hong Kong.

"We had to drive thump-thump-thump over their bodies. I've had people say to me, well why didn't you get out and pull them out of the way? With a bunch of Japanese guns on you, at one o'clock in the morning, you're going to get out there and start pulling for 100 yards dead men off the road so you can get through?"

Flegg paused for effect.

"We were in a war," the veteran concluded.

Prime Minister Paul Martin had just wrapped up a moving remembrance ceremony at Sai Wan Military Cemetery, perched on a steep hillside above this former British protectorate.

Magpies squawked in the rising spring heat and school children and cadets fainted under the humidity. But a group of seven veterans of the December 1941 rout - including three Canadians - endured, as they had a half century earlier.

Two Canadian battalions, some 1,975 soldiers from the Royal Rifles from Quebec and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, were among 14,000 Allied troops sent to defend Hong Kong from the Japanese.

Winston Churchill knew the task was hopeless: "If Japan goes to war with us, there is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong or relieving it," he wrote at the time.

But the Canadian soldiers, barely trained and untested, had no idea. They arrived on Nov. 16, 1941, believing they would act as a deterrent to invasion. The Japanese hammer fell three weeks later on Dec. 8. The Canadians' heavy equipment hadn't even arrived yet.

The island fell on Christmas Day, Flegg told the gathering, his voice breaking. "To me, that's touching."

Martin was in Hong Kong at the end of a nine-day Asian trade and diplomatic mission, and he used the Sai Wan ceremony to mark the start of Canada's Year of the Veteran.

Martin paid tribute to what he described as an under-equipped, barely trained force facing a much larger, heavily armed and trained foe.

"The people, these men, engaged in acts of heroism that those of us who read of history by the fireplace couldn't even begin to understand," Martin told the gathering near the foot of the long, sloping cemetery.

"They fought and they fought and they fought."

Flegg and his buddy Frank Brown, who also survived the war and today lives in Kelowna, rescued the injured women after running two Japanese checkpoints that night in December 1941.

To this day Flegg thinks the Japanese simply couldn't believe two men in a locally commandeered truck would challenge their positions, and assumed the vehicle was one of their own.

"I had a name and reputation as being that crazy Canadian lorry driver," Flegg later confided to reporters.

It was the British Columbia native's first visit to the Hong Kong cemetery and he appeared deeply moved.

The white headstones speak to the chaos of the battle.

"A Soldier of the 1939-1945 War - A Canadian Regiment," say many inscriptions.

"Known unto God."

Montreal-born John Lowe, who fought with the Royal Rifles, broke down when he visited the grave of his brother for the first time this weekend. Lowe, like the other survivors of the initial battle, was interned in Japanese force labour camps until the war ended almost four years later.

Some 129 Canadians would die in the camps under brutal conditions.

Larry Stebbe, a large Manitoban with the build of a man who cut his teeth in the family blacksmith shop, described his arrival in Shamshuipo camp on the Kowloon side of the island: board huts, no windows, no bunks, no cooking utensils, broken toilets.

"It was the degradation that a person experienced immediately, just immediately," said Stebbe, who turns 82 next month.

"The first meal we had there - about a week later - was cooked out of an oil drum. When I first tasted it, I threw up," said Stebbe, laughing.

Flegg couldn't even muster grim humour when asked to compare the doomed battle with the desperation of internment.

"The battle of Hong Kong was hot and heavy and furious, and you didn't have any time really to think about it," he said.

"I was never frightened during that battle and I don't think any of the other Canadians were, either."

Once again, Flegg took a long pause in his tale.

"So the bad times came when we got in the PoW camps."
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Old January 25th, 2005, 01:56 AM   #11
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Martin's Asian message lost in a blur
Breakneck pace a necessity, he says

Tonda MacCharles
Toronto Star
24 January 2005

HONG KONG -- Prime Minister Paul Martin's closing news conference of his Asian tour was an illustration of what has plagued it.

With reporters on tight filing deadlines, he was asked, four times, a simple question about what exactly he had achieved on this whirlwind trip to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Japan, China and Hong Kong.

With notes in hand, Martin was champing at the bit to have a big yak about it, but put off the question from English, French and Chinese journalists each time, asking if there were other issues to deal with first. There was - the explosion of the same-sex marriage debate.

Martin launched into an explanation of both.

It ran for nearly an hour. Martin talked and talked. So much that his press secretary had to redirect him at one point. There were many messages, all linked in Martin's mind.

He drew a thread through his thinking about same-sex marriage, the Charter of Rights and his view of Canada's international role.

"What is this all about? It is fundamentally that I believe that Canada can and has to make a difference in the world."

In Paul Martin's view, this trip was about ensuring Canada's voice is not drowned out in the rise of other economic and political powers. About putting in valuable face time with key political leaders. About pushing the idea that Canada as a tolerant, diverse country can be a broker of stability in the world's hotspots, and so ensure its own security and economic prosperity.

"I believe that Canada has assets which nobody has. We're not a colonial power," Martin said.

"We have a highly developed sense of values. We have a good education system, we have good health care and we understand more than most the need for good institution building. You can't just move in with your army and move out. And I believe we have a real role to play in those areas. And I think that is making a difference in the world."

And that's why, he said, he went to India, Japan, China and Hong Kong.

Aware of the criticism at home that his tour lacked a central focus, Martin went on the offensive.

He said just as Canadians "accept as a truism" that the Canadian prime minister has to get along with the U.S. president, "then it also ought to be an accepted truism that we've got to get along with the other major blocs."

Trips always take on a life of their own, and this one was so hard, the days blurring one into the other, it felt like Groundhog Day. Reporters dubbed it "The Great Bawl of China."

Martin explained the breakneck pace of his journey to meet leaders in this region is a function of the need for Canada to catch up.

"The time to do it is now, not to do it in 10 years from now," Martin said.

"So if you're asking me is it urgent? Yes, it is urgent. Absolutely, because I don't want to do it when they will have become great powers; I want to do it now."

It has been a physically gruelling tour. The day of departure, Jan. 14, turned into a nearly 65-hour day for reporters following him, with a few hours sleep grabbed on a 20-hour flight. On the ground, the working day began on a tsunami-washed beach in Thailand and ended in Sri Lanka's capital. It continued apace.

Staff in the Prime Minister's Office and journalists alike began getting sick. The medic on board said people were "dropping like flies." Many popped sleeping pills on overnight flights to ensure they got some rest.

One night, Martin said in an aside to a reporter that he runs on adrenaline by day, and by night can quickly drop into a deep sleep and awake afresh.

Nonetheless, Martin did appear tired at the end. He began his second-last day on the Great Wall of China. He flew to Hong Kong. Met Ireland's leader, Bertie Ahern, an international acquaintance of Martin's who was in town at the same time, and not, as senior government officials said, the current president of the European Union.

Lastly, there was a meeting and dinner hosted by Hong Kong chief administrative executive Tung Chee-hwa.

During his toast to Hong Kong leaders, Martin mixed up his words, apparently unaware he had suggested that investors interested in big markets try going to the U.S. first.

His communications strategy is baffling.

On any given day, Martin's message was a difficult one for media to capture and convey. Sometimes there was no time. Planes were leaving and no filing time was allotted, for example, for wire services to send out pictures of Martin and his wife at the Japanese emperor's Imperial Palace.

The story of his tribute to Canadian veterans in Hong Kong very nearly didn't make it to the television airwaves.

Sometimes there was nothing - no visit or photo opportunity - to illustrate Martin's accomplishments of the day, for example, a science and technology agreement in India, the energy co-operation agreement with China, or the cultural treaty that will see museum relics from a 4,000-year-old civilization come to Canada's Museum of Civilization.

More importantly, Martin's message frequently got stomped on, sometimes by events within his control, sometimes by events that overtook him.

His meeting with Tamil leaders whom Canada had barred because of their ties to a blacklisted guerrilla group became a story in itself when journalists learned of their backgrounds from NDP Leader Jack Layton. Asked about it, senior government officials could not or would not provide details.

Then came a top Sikh cleric's edict against same-sex marriage as he entered India, similar broadsides by Catholic leaders back home in Canada, and the death of former Communist leader Zhao Ziyang.

Ziyang had been purged from his party for sympathizing with the Tiananmen Square protestors. Martin learned of his death from reporters. But it took days before the federal government issued a formal note of condolence. Martin begged off a question about whether he would like to go pay his respects, saying it was not on his schedule, that "those who control my life" had not allotted time.

Martin was then upstaged by Conservative MP Jason Kenney's visit to the Zhao home, contrary to an official ban on public mourning.

Martin shrugged it off as a political stunt. But there was no doubting that a former Zhao aide came out and invited Kenney inside to pay his respects, and no doubting Kenney's interpreter was very moved by his first taste of defying a government order. He was elated by the opportunity to honour Zhao.

There was also the unequivocal declaration by Martin's industry minister, David Emerson, that Canada's laws on foreign investment need review, even as Martin was here trying to persuade China to open up its mining and energy sectors to Canadian companies.

Asked had Canadians understood his mission here, Martin said in his view, his message, in all its complexity, is reaching Canadians.

"When I go across the country and I speak on it, there's no doubt it strikes a resonant chord," said Martin. "I think that they believe that we have a responsibility to make a difference and they want to see us do it."

Then Martin hesitated and asked a reporter, "I don't know, is it getting through to you?"

"If it's not getting through (to Canadians) then that's clearly my responsibility to ensure that it does, but I believe that it is getting through."
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Old January 25th, 2005, 01:58 AM   #12
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Strategy for Asian trade to be reviewed in weeks
Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, in Hong Kong
24 January 2005
Irish Times

The Government's plan to boost Irish trade with Asia, including China, will be reviewed quickly following last week's visit by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, to China.

The week-long trade mission, involving 200 Irish companies saw €115 million worth of deals, and, more importantly, laid the seeds for further business, Enterprise Ireland predicted.

Leaving Hong Kong on Saturday, Mr Ahern said China would become "a trillion-dollar economy" in a few years. "We need just a small part of that to keep us successful in the years ahead. I am not even asking for a large part of it."

The Government's Asia Strategy has been in place since 1998, though senior officials now admit "it must move up a gear and more" to cope with the dramatic opportunities offered by growth in China and elsewhere in the Asia/Pacific region.

However, Mr Ahern said the Government's increased focus would not lead to "offices opening up everywhere" throughout the region.

Pointing to the opportunities offered by China's coastal provinces alone, including Guangdong, Mr Ahern said: "We don't have to be all over the place. I don't even think that we should try to do that."

A strategy for Asia to run up to 2010 will be drawn up in weeks involving the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Education and Science, Enterprise Ireland and other agencies.

Mr Ahern also indicated that the Industrial Development Authority could set up an office in Shanghai to attract Chinese companies to start up operations in Ireland. "Shanghai, in particular, is looking for foreign direct investment opportunities abroad. We can go after that," Mr Ahern told The Irish Times.

Shannon Development last week pitched to a number of Chinese companies to set up so-called "incubator" factories in its area that could grow to serve the EU and US market.

Questioned again about China's human rights record, Mr Ahern said he had been impressed by President Hu Jintao's commitment to making changes to the country's judicial system.

The Chinese government, he said, had listened to the criticisms of the world community, though he emphasised his acceptance of the Chinese argument that progress had to be gradual.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern said the Bush administration had not lobbied him over its opposition to the dropping of the EU's embargo on arms sales to China. Throughout the visit, Mr Ahern has made clear that he supports the ending of the ban, subject to safeguards being put in place.

Though the British government had been hesitant about making concessions to Beijing, Mr Ahern said he believed the UK was now ready to do so. "You will see the United Kingdom's strategic interest sorting this out, probably during its EU presidency (later this year), and they will probably claim that they were the ones to sort it out."

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern met with Father Joseph Mallon, whose father, Michael, was one of the volunteers killed during the Easter Rising.

Before his departure on Saturday night, Mr Ahern attended a GAA all-Stars match involving the Vodafone 2003 and 2004 all-stars, which was attended by hundreds of Irish living in Asia.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 02:00 AM   #13
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Deals with China take time, Ahern tells Irish firms
Liana Cafolla
23 January 2005
South China Morning Post

Irish companies seeking partnerships on the mainland and in Hong Kong need to invest a lot of time in building relationships, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told a meeting of Irish and Hong Kong business people yesterday.

Mr Ahern was in Hong Kong on the last stop of a visit to China, leading the largest foreign trade mission in Irish history.

Clearly delighted with the success of the mission, which has resulted in {euro}125 million ($1.27 billion) in trade deals, he said: "We are proud of the fact that a comparatively small country like Ireland has the capability to offer world-class products and services to the world's largest marketplace.

"China is a fixed size but the cake isn't. If you're in there, your slice of the cake will get bigger."

The delegation has signed deals in the education, food and other sectors. Irish companies are also interested in providing software, telecommunications, aviation, electronics and engineering, food, consultancy, training and international financial products and services.

Mr Ahern said building relationships was time-consuming, but essential for doing business in China. Some Irish companies have spent up to five years building relationships before closing deals on the mainland. "The Chinese are slow about building up a relationship, but they're equally slow about breaking them up," he said.

China was aware of the need to improve its legal system and he believed progress would be made within the decade. "The rule of law is always a problem for businesses, but to date it hasn't been a big problem for Irish companies," he said.

Mr Ahern briefly commented on the proposed lifting of the EU's embargo on selling arms to China, saying the move would depend on reaching agreement on the use of the arms.

In Hong Kong, Ireland's ninth largest trading partner outside the EU, the Irish government wants to promote the ability of Irish companies to form partnerships. But Mr Ahern said there was a similar need to build relationships.

"We know that our whole mission here is to build good friendships and relationships that will last into the years ahead. Business between us has been growing, but there's scope to do a lot more business," he said.

Mr Ahern compared Hong Kong's role in easing trade with China to Ireland's ability to help the city's companies establish themselves in the EU. "Nothing seems to happen on the mainland that doesn't go through the financial services or the airport or the port here," he said.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 07:58 AM   #14
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Foreign Affairs




As Hong Kong is a major international city, there is considerable diplomatic traffic into and out of the city. This thread tracks foreign dignitaries visiting Hong Kong, and also Hong Kong officials visiting abroad.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 08:00 AM   #15
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CE touches down in Canada to kick off North America visit
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Government Press Release



The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, is greeted on arrival in Vancouver by British Columbia's Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations, Mr John van Dongen.



The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and Mrs Tsang are greeted on arrival in Vancouver by British Columbia's Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations, Mr John van Dongen, and Consul General of the PRC, Madame Tian Chunyan.

The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, has touched down in Vancouver today (October 22, Vancouver time) to kick off his first official visit to North America as Chief Executive.

Mr Tsang's seven-day visit takes in Vancouver, New York and the US capital Washington D.C.

"Canada and the US are two of our most important trading partners," said Mr Tsang.

"But what makes our relationship so special with both countries is the fact that we have such close people-to-people links.

"There are tens of thousands of Canadian and US citizens living and working in Hong Kong. At the same time, tens of thousands Hong Kong people live, work or study in these two countries.

"We cherish these economic and social links and I hope that my visit to North America can reinforce and strengthen these ties."

During a packed week of breakfasts, briefings and meetings the Chief Executive will update government leaders, business chiefs and thing-tanks on Hong Kong's latest economic and political developments.

He will encourage more Canadian and US companies to make use of Hong Kong's strengths as Asia's business and financial services hub.

He will stress Hong Kong's unbeatable advantages as the best two-way platform for doing business in the rapidly growing Mainland China market.

Mr Tsang will also outline the numerous business opportunities in the burgeoning Pearl River Delta and highlight the massive potential of the Pan-PRD region with a possible market of 460 million people.

On the political front, the Chief Executive will explain in detail Hong Kong's electoral reform package and plans to boost the representativeness of the elections of the Chief Executive in 2007 and the Legislative Council in 2008.

Tomorrow (October 23, Vancouver time), Mr Tsang takes to the airwaves with legislator and former radio host Albert Cheng for a one-hour interview and phone-in programme on Chinese-language station, AM1320.

Following the radio programme, Mr Tsang will meet British Columbia Premier, Mr Gordon Campbell.

Later that day the Chief Executive will attend a VIP Reception hosted by Mr Campbell for top officials and corporate leaders attending Canada's first Hong Kong - Guangdong Business Forum in Vancouver on October 24.

Among the guests at the reception will be Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, leading Canadian business executives and members of British Columbia's Asia Pacific Trade Council.

Mr Tsang will then join Governor Huang and 800 guests for the Pearl River Delta Dinner hosted by Mr Campbell at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
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Old October 24th, 2005, 12:30 PM   #16
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Transcript of remarks by CE in Vancouver
Government Press Release

Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at a media standup in Vancouver today (October 23, Vancouver time):

Chief Executive: I left Hong Kong yesterday, Saturday, and today is Sunday and this is my first working day. I have used this opportunity to talk to the erstwhile Hong Kong residents who are here and who are very anxious to know the latest developments in Hong Kong. They are very instrumental, I suppose, in the flow of investments into Hong Kong so I met them, and talked to them over the radio, and also met the media here.

This evening the Premier of British Columbia will host a dinner for me and the Governor of Guangdong Province and we are going to have a meeting as well. The theme of our discussion would be the rising opportunities for business in the Pearl River Delta and the Pan-Pearl River Delta area. This should be a quite interesting discussion.

Tomorrow, on Monday, that would be the main fixture of my coming to Vancouver, that would be a joint promotion by ourselves and the Governor of Guangdong Province to outline the rising opportunities that are arising in the Pearl River Delta generally and how they would offer new business opportunities for businessmen in Canada. Our seminar will be participated by other people as well, by the Federal Minister of Industry here, together with our Ambassador coming here particularly for this occasion from Ottawa.

Reporter: You are here in Canada, so why is Canada important?

Chief Executive: Canada is important because it is a major trading partner of Hong Kong and there are also a lot of Canadians living in Hong Kong. There are nearly a quarter of million Canadians living in Hong Kong and half a million Hong Kong residents have relations of one kind or another with Canada. So this is an important partner for us.

So it is important, from my point of view, to continue these strong ties with a view to attracting more Canadian investment and businessmen to come to Hong Kong to trade and invest. And I think they should need up-to-date information about Hong Kong and about the increasing opportunities that exist in areas around Hong Kong, including the Pearl River Delta and the nine provinces near Hong Kong. And this is the main purpose of my promotion exercise here conducted together with the Governor of Guangdong Province.
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Old October 24th, 2005, 09:30 PM   #17
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October 24, 2005
Government Press Release
HK helps fuel Canada's economy: CE





Chief Executive Donald Tsang meets British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and chats with the Canadian community at the Pearl River Delta dinner and on a phone-in programme.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang says the strong economic and social ties between Hong Kong and Canada will be instrumental in supporting Canada's initiative to double the level of its trade and investment relationship with China by 2010.

Speaking at a Pearl River Delta dinner in Vancouver, Mr Tsang said the connection between Canada and Hong Kong has strengthened during the past five years.

Almost a quarter of a million residents of Hong Kong who are Canadian passport holders and about 1.1 million people - nearly one-sixth of Hong Kong's population - have close family links to Canada, and about 8% of Hong Kong's population has studied in Canada.

Strong links nurture economic partnership

"Strong social links like these have nurtured the ever-growing and vibrant economic partnership between us," he said.

"Hong Kong businesses have invested C$5.3 billion here in Canada, making Hong Kong Canada's eighth-largest investor, and the second biggest from Asia. "

In this way, Hong Kong people have helped fuel the economies of British Columbia and Canada, Mr Tsang added.

"And it works both ways, of course. Hong Kong is now home to the largest Canadian business community in Asia. One hundred and fifty Canadian companies maintain branches or subsidiaries in Hong Kong, and another 450 are represented by distributors, agents or joint-venture partners."

Apart from attending the dinner, Mr Tsang also went on radio in Canada to explain the latest developments in Hong Kong - the first Chief Executive to participate on a live phone-in programme in Canada.

He was guest of honour during an hour-long interview and phone-in programme hosted by Hong Kong legislator Albert Cheng on radio station AM1320.

Wide range of issues discussed

During the Chinese-language programme, Mr Tsang chatted with listeners in the Vancouver area and gave them an overview of Hong Kong's economic prospects and political development.

He discussed a range of issues including Hong Kong-Canada ties, the quality of life in Hong Kong, job opportunities for professionals and young people, political development, the Policy Address, air pollution and environmental protection.

Mr Tsang also met British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, and provided him with an update on Hong Kong's GDP growth, the exciting developments in the tourism industry and the improving employment situation.

The Chief Executive outlined the benefits of enhanced economic co-operation with the Mainland, in particular the potential of the Pan-PRD area and the operation of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.

Mr Tsang also highlighted Hong Kong's strengths as the best gateway for Canadian companies to enter the Mainland market, and for Mainland companies to explore opportunities globally, including in Canada.

US visit to start

The two further discussed British Columbia's recently launched Asia-Pacific strategy to promote the province's trade, tourism and cultural opportunities and to strengthen relations with Asia-Pacific economies, including Hong Kong.

Tomorrow, Mr Tsang will attend a Hong Kong-Guangdong Business Forum and meet Canada's Federal Minister for Industry David Emerson before leaving for New York to start the US leg of his seven-day North America visit.
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Old October 25th, 2005, 09:55 AM   #18
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October 25, 2005
Government Press Release
HK the best partner to tap Mainland market: CE

Canadian companies wishing to tap the 'awe-inspiring' potential of the Mainland's rapidly growing economy will find no better partner than Hong Kong, Chief Executive Donald Tsang says.

He urged Canadian businesses to leverage Hong Kong's strengths in financial and professional services to enter the Asian market, especially the Mainland.

Speaking to more than 800 guests at the Hong Kong - Guangdong Business Forum in Vancouver on Monday, Mr Tsang said Hong Kong and Guangdong are the leading players in the rapidly developing south China economy, which has a potential market of 460 million people.

"Hong Kong supplies capital; accounting, insurance, legal and trade services; expertise, connections and international experience. Guangdong supplies land, infrastructure, manpower, entrepreneurial drive, ambition and spirit. Canadian companies bring their investments, innovations and marketing skills.

Overseas companies welcome

"We welcome overseas companies large and small. The Mainland is opening quickly, but making money in China is no piece of cake. Even multinationals have encountered unexpected problems when entering the Mainland market.

"Small and medium-sized enterprises that are looking for support will find what they need in Hong Kong. We invite you to join us as we enter a new era of opportunity in southern China."

Mr Tsang stressed the importance of Hong Kong's legal system and intellectual property rights protection regime to international investors, noting the city has just this week become the first jurisdiction in the world to successfully prosecute the illegal distribution of copyright-protected material online.

"This highlights Hong Kong's determination to deal with intellectual property rights infringements and to protect intellectual property rights to the highest possible standard," he said.

Ways to boost bilateral flows discussed

Earlier in the day, Mr Tsang held a breakfast meeting with Canada's Federal Minister of Industry David Emerson. They discussed Canada's recently launched Pacific Gateway Strategy, a C$590 million initiative to strengthen trade, investment and tourism links between Canada and Pacific economies, including Hong Kong and the Mainland. Ways to improve bilateral flows of people, goods and capital through such areas as enhanced air services as well as double taxation and investment promotion agreements were also discussed.

Mr Emerson said pro-active steps are being taken to improve and intensify links with Hong Kong and China and to boost the efficiency and competitiveness of Canadian business in the region and 'take it to a whole new level'.

He said the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong & the Mainland provided opportunities for Canadian companies, especially SMEs, to service the China market via Hong Kong.

Mr Tsang will leaves Vancouver on Monday afternoon (Vancouver time) for New York, where he starts the US-leg of his seven-day North America visit.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 06:21 AM   #19
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Hong Kong stopover for Schwarzenegger trade tour
26 October 2005
South China Morning Post

Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will visit Hong Kong next month as part of a trade mission to China. The actor-turned-politician will attend an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Hong Kong as part of his week-long tour of China.

Republicans Abroad chairman Mark Simon said: "I'm sure Amcham will have no trouble filling tables for this lunch. There will be a lot of interest in Arnold and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say."

Hong Kong's Trade and Industry Department said it had no meetings scheduled with the California trade delegation.

The California governor is no stranger to China - in 2000, he toured the country attending an Arnold Schwarzenegger film festival, the first time the mainland had staged a festival in honour of a western movie star.

This trip, which begins on November 14, is being held to boost trade links between California and China.

The spokeswoman at the governor's office said the trip was being privately financed to ease the burden on Californian taxpayers. Critics fear that individual businessmen funding the trip will be the only ones to gain access to any deals the delegation drums up, and have called on the governor to reveal the names of donors.

Up to 50 trade delegates are expected to accompany Mr Schwarzenegger.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 08:04 AM   #20
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Use Hong Kong as your Asian base, CE tells New York audience
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Government Press Release

The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, has today (October 25 New York time) urged American business and finance chiefs to use Hong Kong as their Asian base.

During a busy day in New York, Mr Tsang stressed the sophistication of Hong Kong's financial and business services and the ease in which international companies, big and small, can do business via Hong Kong for both the Asian and China markets.

"Hong Kong has become a supercharged turbine for international finance, commerce and trade," Mr Tsang told 350 luncheon guests at New York's famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel on the first day of his US visit.

"Today Hong Kong clearly emerges as the services hub for business in Asia. All kinds of businesses, from entrepreneurs making the most of our lifestyle and world-class infrastructure, to multi-national corporations serving the region concentrate in Hong Kong.

"There are now nearly 3,800 overseas companies with regional operations in Hong Kong, which is a record high, and American firms are the largest group among them, with 868.

"Since 1997, the number of overseas companies with regional operations has grown by over 50%, confirming Hong Kong as the most popular place in Asia to establish a base.

"These companies recognise Hong Kong's value as the best platform for doing business, not only in the Mainland, but in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole."

Mr Tsang also highlighted Hong Kong's role as the principal services hub for Chinese companies looking to expand their customer base on the world stage.

He said Mainland enterprises had raised over US$120 billion on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and were increasingly using Hong Kong and its international know-how to venture into global markets.

During a meeting with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Chief Executive briefed a distinguished group of US bankers and financiers on the latest developments in Hong Kong, in particular the financial front, including bond market development, renminbi business, the revaluation of the renminbi and the expansion of renminbi business for Hong Kong banks.

Mr Tsang outlined plans to further enhance links between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, and explained the huge market potential of the Pan-PRD economic grouping.

In a very cordial meeting with former US President Bill Clinton, whose office is in New York, the Chief Executive discussed a range of issues including Hong Kong's economic development, political reform, and Sino-US relations.

Tonight (New York time), Mr Tsang arrives in Washington D.C. for a three-day visit to the US capital.

Tomorrow (October 26 New York time), the Chief Executive will meet US political leaders, attend a lunch hosted by the Business Roundtable and attend a reception hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Washington).
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