Deal signed with Guangdong to monitor rubbish washing up on Hong Kong’s beaches

Mechanism is one of nine agreements signed at high-level conference attended by chief executive covering areas such as trade and tourism

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 11:45pm

Hong Kong and Guangdong agreed at a top-level meeting yesterday to set up a mechanism to monitor the problem of rubbish from the mainland washing up on the city’s shores.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and provincial governor Zhu Xiaodan, who chaired the Hong Kong-Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou, also agreed to step up youth exchange programmes between the two sides.

And they pledged to work together to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the nation’s “One Belt, One Road” trade development strategy.

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After the conference, Leung said they had reached a consensus after he raised the issue of the massive deluge of rubbish, believed to have built up during heavy rain and flooding in the Pearl River Delta, washing up on Hong Kong’s southern shores this summer.

“Environmental protection departments just signed an agreement to establish a monitoring and notification mechanism to handle oceanic environment problems, including rubbish drifting across the border,” the chief executive said.

That was one of nine agreements signed by the two sides yesterday after the conference, covering environmental protection, health, education, food safety, tourism, innovation and technology, and trade.

In July, social media became flooded with graphic images of popular Hong Kong beaches such as Nim Shue Wan near Discovery Bay, covered in refuse from plastic bottles to detergent cartons. Simplified Chinese labelling on discarded items suggested they came from the mainland.

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Responding to a public outcry, government departments collected 78,000kg of marine refuse from affected beaches and coastal areas from July 1 to 9.

On July 10, the chief executive himself took part in a government clean-up at a South Lantau beach, and his administration promised to follow up the matter with Guangdong authorities.

To boost exchanges between young people in Hong Kong and Guangdong, tours will be arranged to cover themes such as environmental protection and intangible cultural heritage.

An alliance of tertiary institutions in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau will be set up by the end of the year to promote exchanges between universities.

Zhu said Guangdong authorities would offer support for young people from Hong Kong in the coming year to launch start-ups in the province .

During his trip across the border, Leung also met Guangdong Party Secretary Hu Chunhua and thanked the province for its support in the innovation and technology field.

Leung told Hu that co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong would be further strengthened in areas of tourism and China’s “One Belt, One Road” push to drive cooperation among Eurasian countries along the ancient Silk Road trading route.