Cross-border sailing expected to start soon between Hong Kong and Chinese waters

Private boats will be able to enter Guangdong waters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 5:04am

A Hong Kong businessman operating a marina in a pilot development zone in Guangzhou expects a cross-border sailing scheme for private vessels suggested by Guangdong authorities to take effect soon.

Ian Fok Chun-wan said he hoped power boats and yachts would soon be able to travel freely between Hong Kong and Nansha .

This is not possible now because of legal restrictions.

"I think it is mainly because there is no clear regulation [on what foreign yacht-owners] should do [if they want to enter Chinese waters]," Fok, chief executive of the Fok Ying Tung Group and former chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, said. "It seems that they have to go through customs and so on."

Fok was in a delegation of Hong Kong businessmen and academics who attended a forum in the zone yesterday with Guangdong officials on stepping up cross-border integration.

Deputy head of Nansha's district government Raymond Sun Lei, who attended the forum, confirmed there had been discussion among Guangdong officials on the idea.

Yu Yunzhou, deputy director of Guangdong's Development and Reform Commission, echoed Sun's remark, adding: [Officials] tend to support the proposal but it takes time."

In March, then secretary for transport and housing Eva Cheng told the Legislative Council the Hong Kong government was studying the feasibility of a cross-border sailing scheme first suggested by the Guangdong government last year.

Fok, whose 70-berth marina opened last year with the possibility of future expansion to 350, said he was optimistic .

"I think Nansha has an advantage [as a new development zone]," he said. "Initiatives can be implemented as pilot schemes, and then introduced nationwide."

According to China's 12th five-year plan, Nansha will develop into a commercial and service hub that serves both the mainland and Hong Kong. It is also a pilot development zone for co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong.

Yu said Guangdong aimed to move the province's co-operation with Hong Kong "from the functional aspect, to the legal, managerial and commercial environment aspect".

That remark recalled earlier media reports that the Guangzhou municipal government is considering building a second airport, possibly in Nansha. The reports sparked speculation about rivalry with other airports in the region, including Hong Kong's.

But Sun dismissed such worries and emphasised that the Nansha administration was not aware of such a plan. "The second airport is only an idea of the municipal government, and the site is not been decided yet,"

Sun also denied having applied to set up China's fourth commodities futures exchange in the district.