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Tam defends trip to Beijing during ‘two sessions’  

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said Tuesday that he held talks with central government officials in Beijing earlier this month at their request.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said Tuesday that he held talks with central government officials in Beijing earlier this month at their request.

Tam made the remarks while speaking to reporters in Patane district.

Tam’s remarks came after Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng told the media on Monday in Beijing that it was impropriate for officials of the local government to visit Beijing and meet their counterparts from the central government during the “two sessions” (“liang hui”) – the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March.

Tam and several officials under his portfolio went to Beijing on March 8 and 9, when they visited a number of senior officials of the central government, including Education Minister Chen Baosheng, Culture Minister Luo Shugang, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council Deputy Director Huang Liuquan, State Administration of Cultural Heritage Deputy Director Liu Shuguang and Palace Museum Curator Shan Jixiang.

In the recent State Council restructuring, the Ministry of Culture was abolished. The Ministry of Culture and the China National Tourism Administration – also abolished – have been merged into the new Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

When asked by the media in Beijing on Monday what he thought about policy secretaries from Macau visiting Beijing during the “two sessions”, Ho said he doubted whether it was useful for Macau government officials trying to obtain “concrete” achievements by meeting their counterparts in the central government during the “two sessions” – the nation’s busiest political period every year.

Ho pointed out that senior officials working in the central government’s ministries and commissions are very busy attending the various meetings during the “two sessions” – such as meetings of the NPC and CPPCC delegations from provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, as well as from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and meetings of the presidium of the first session of the 13th NPC, apart from plenary meetings.

The first session of the 13th NPC, which began on March 5, had its closing meeting yesterday, while the first session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, which started on March 3, ended on Thursday.

When asked by reporters about Ho’s remarks, Tam said that he and his office did not take the initiative to meet the central government officials earlier this month, adding that the respective ministries and their sub-entities has asked him to visit them to discuss cooperation between Macau and the mainland.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Palace Museum were sub-entities of the now defunct Ministry of Culture and are now run by the newly created Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Tam said that during his two-day stay in the capital, both sides reached consensus on a number of matters, particularly concerning the repairs and restoration of antiquities. He added that the Palace Museum can assist Macau in repairing antiquities.

Tam also said that his office and the Palace Museum agreed during his visit to jointly launch a new programme for local university students to take part in a one-month training and internship scheme at the museum in the capital.

Tam said that he had refrained from making any comment on Ho’s remarks as he respected the opinions raised by the legislature’s president.

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac and Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak reportedly also visited Beijing during the “two sessions”.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

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