Carrie Lam Acknowledged No Foreseeable Traveller Clearance to Mainland in the Short Term

Hong Kong government has been following the “Zero-COVID” policy from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has caused a tremendous impact on the city’s economy. Outgoing Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has been trying in her tenure to communicate with the mainland for the resumption of normal traveller clearance between Hong Kong and mainland. But until leaving office, she acknowledged that Hong Kong’s pandemic prevention policy is “midway” between mainland and international countries, there isn’t any foreseeable traveller clearance to mainland in the short term. In her last question-and-answer session in Legislative Council, on June 9, Lam was asked about suggestions for the next leader to deal with the next wave of epidemic and strive for customs clearance. Lam said most government experts are not worried about the epidemic, because Hong Kong has established protective barriers to effectively reduce serious cases through natural infections and vaccination. Lam said there are great challenges in the resumption of normal traveller clearance with mainland China, because the epidemic prevention theories and measures for mainland and oversea are completely different, and Hong Kong is in the middle of the two. She said that according to the basis of discussion with the mainland from September to December last year (2021), “the possibility of traveller clearance will not be possible in the short term.” To achieve the normal traveller clearance to the mainland, Hong Kong government also introduced a mandatory “LeaveHomeSafe” app to track individual whereabouts, and the Hong Kong health code system for connection with the “health code” from the mainland. Lam said on the Hong Kong TV program on June 11, 2022, that she looked forward to how the new leader will expedite the above issue with mainland authorities. With the cancellation of entry restriction by most of other countries, Hong Kong is still maintaining a 7-day quarantine measures. Lam admitted she was worried about the city’s international metropolitan status would be affected, but she needs to learn the relaxation of entry measures from Beijing’s views. Regarding the issue of traveller clearance to China prior to overseas, Lam said if it will take a long time to settle the issue with the mainland, then Hong Kong needs to evaluate how long it can accept the current difficulties, for people from outside the city to come to Hong Kong. As the “Zero-COVID” policy from the CCP has caused a serious impact on Hong Kong’s economy, the business and financial organizations in Hong Kong have put pressure on the government to relax entry restriction. Sally Wong Chi-ming, CEO of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, recently said that Hong Kong’s financial industry is hit severely by the immigration quarantine policy, if it keeps on maintaining the policy, it might pull down Hong Kong’s connection and competition status on international market. David Hui Shu-cheong, an expert consultant to the Hong Kong government, said that there are conditions for traveller clearance to other countries, the period for hotel quarantine can be shortened or even changed to home quarantine, like Singapore and other countries. But the external customs control can not be too relaxed if the traveller clearance to mainland is a top priority, for the mainland is still maintaining a “Zero-COVID” policy. Since the CCP opened up the individual visit scheme of mainland residents to Hong Kong and Macau in 2003, Hong Kong’s tourism, retail and other industries have begun to rely on mainland tourists. According to data from the Hong Kong government, tourism is one of the main pillars of the city’s economy. In 2018, mainland tourists accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total number of tourists, which contributed about 4.5 present of Hong Kong’s GDP and 6.6 percent of employment in the tourism industry. After the outbreak of the epidemic, both Hong Kong and China implemented strict entry policy, the number of tourist visiting Hong Kong decreased from 43.77 million in 2019 to 65,000 in 2021. The restriction of traveller clearance has not only impacted Hong Kong’s tourism industry, but also badly hit the retail industry that relies on tourists. The 30-year-old snack food franchise “Ahi Ichiban” announced the closure of its business earlier this month. A company spokesman said they decided to close up shops, due to the large number of tourists that were lost after the outbreak of the epidemic and the resumption of normal traveller clearance between Hong Kong and mainland is indefinite. Follow Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.

Carrie Lam Acknowledged No Foreseeable Traveller Clearance to Mainland in the Short Term

Hong Kong government has been following the “Zero-COVID” policy from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has caused a tremendous impact on the city’s economy. 

Outgoing Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has been trying in her tenure to communicate with the mainland for the resumption of normal traveller clearance between Hong Kong and mainland. But until leaving office, she acknowledged that Hong Kong’s pandemic prevention policy is “midway” between mainland and international countries, there isn’t any foreseeable traveller clearance to mainland in the short term.

In her last question-and-answer session in Legislative Council, on June 9, Lam was asked about suggestions for the next leader to deal with the next wave of epidemic and strive for customs clearance. Lam said most government experts are not worried about the epidemic, because Hong Kong has established protective barriers to effectively reduce serious cases through natural infections and vaccination.

Lam said there are great challenges in the resumption of normal traveller clearance with mainland China, because the epidemic prevention theories and measures for mainland and oversea are completely different, and Hong Kong is in the middle of the two. She said that according to the basis of discussion with the mainland from September to December last year (2021), “the possibility of traveller clearance will not be possible in the short term.”

To achieve the normal traveller clearance to the mainland, Hong Kong government also introduced a mandatory “LeaveHomeSafe” app to track individual whereabouts, and the Hong Kong health code system for connection with the “health code” from the mainland.

Lam said on the Hong Kong TV program on June 11, 2022, that she looked forward to how the new leader will expedite the above issue with mainland authorities.

With the cancellation of entry restriction by most of other countries, Hong Kong is still maintaining a 7-day quarantine measures. Lam admitted she was worried about the city’s international metropolitan status would be affected, but she needs to learn the relaxation of entry measures from Beijing’s views.

Regarding the issue of traveller clearance to China prior to overseas, Lam said if it will take a long time to settle the issue with the mainland, then Hong Kong needs to evaluate how long it can accept the current difficulties, for people from outside the city to come to Hong Kong.

As the “Zero-COVID” policy from the CCP has caused a serious impact on Hong Kong’s economy, the business and financial organizations in Hong Kong have put pressure on the government to relax entry restriction.

Sally Wong Chi-ming, CEO of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, recently said that Hong Kong’s financial industry is hit severely by the immigration quarantine policy, if it keeps on maintaining the policy, it might pull down Hong Kong’s connection and competition status on international market.

David Hui Shu-cheong, an expert consultant to the Hong Kong government, said that there are conditions for traveller clearance to other countries, the period for hotel quarantine can be shortened or even changed to home quarantine, like Singapore and other countries. But the external customs control can not be too relaxed if the traveller clearance to mainland is a top priority, for the mainland is still maintaining a “Zero-COVID” policy.

Since the CCP opened up the individual visit scheme of mainland residents to Hong Kong and Macau in 2003, Hong Kong’s tourism, retail and other industries have begun to rely on mainland tourists.

According to data from the Hong Kong government, tourism is one of the main pillars of the city’s economy. In 2018, mainland tourists accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total number of tourists, which contributed about 4.5 present of Hong Kong’s GDP and 6.6 percent of employment in the tourism industry. After the outbreak of the epidemic, both Hong Kong and China implemented strict entry policy, the number of tourist visiting Hong Kong decreased from 43.77 million in 2019 to 65,000 in 2021.

The restriction of traveller clearance has not only impacted Hong Kong’s tourism industry, but also badly hit the retail industry that relies on tourists. The 30-year-old snack food franchise “Ahi Ichiban” announced the closure of its business earlier this month. A company spokesman said they decided to close up shops, due to the large number of tourists that were lost after the outbreak of the epidemic and the resumption of normal traveller clearance between Hong Kong and mainland is indefinite.


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Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.