Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said Hong Kong will contribute to reconstruction work if possible, after an earthquake rocked Sichuan, China on Tuesday night.
The 6.5-magnitude quake struck Jiuzhaigou causing at least 19 deaths and 247 injuries, as well as damage to buildings.
Lam was meeting with the Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration Li Jinzao in Beijing on Wednesday. She said she was saddened by the damage the earthquake caused.
“We are very close with the Sichuan province. We joined reconstruction work after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. I believe rescue troops will do their best,” she said.
“Hong Kong people and mainland people are tied by blood. As in the past, if we can join reconstruction work in the future, we will surely do that. But rescue work is the most important thing now, to take care of the victims.”
The Hong Kong Immigration Department said all 39 Hong Kong people who were reported missing by their families have been found. The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong also said tourists in the area were accounted for.
After the magnitude 8 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the Hong Kong government gave HK$10 billion to Sichuan to aid reconstruction work.
However, there was criticism over how the funds were apparently misused. The newly-built Mianyang Zijing Ethnic Minorities High School was torn down in 2012 – after only being used for a year-and-a-half – to accommodate the new, luxury Wanda shopping mall. The government had to reclaim the HK$2 million it supplied, since it did not agree to the demolition.
Other scandals involved the Wenchuan government constructing new a luxury office building and the Yingxiu government buying a luxury car fleet.
On Wednesday, Lam and Li witnessed the signing of the agreement to enhance tourism and co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland.
The agreement covers areas including jointly developing Maritime Silk Road tourism products, conducting joint publicity in Belt and Road markets, and enriching multi-destination travel itineraries.
It will enhance co-operation in the regulation of tourism in order to “eradicate unreasonably low-priced group tours” and other illegal businesses or violations.
Other areas include collaboration in the cruise tourism industry, allowing more solely-Hong Kong owned travel agents to operate outbound travel business for mainland residents. It also makes reference to the setting up of a regular communication and co-ordination mechanism to study and discuss issues on regional tourism co-operation and regulation.