China To Reopen Borders With Hong Kong In A Few Days
HONG KONG – China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office announced today that the border between the mainland and Hong Kong will be reopened on Sunday, reported The Financial Times on Thursday afternoon (5 January, SGT).
The border reopening, which is the 1st time in 3 years, comes as officials expedite the easing of harsh COVID-19 measures that have impacted Hong Kong’s economic growth, with the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracting by 3.2 percent for the whole of 2022.
The event will see the resumption of quarantine-free travel between mainland China and Hong Kong, but it will be done in a “gradual and orderly” manner, the office stated.
Interestingly, China will no longer require travellers to take COVID tests upon arrival in the mainland from the financial hub, but will require incoming visitors to show a negative pre-departure polymerase chain reaction test result. Government officials will also issue special tourism and business visas for mainland residents planning to visit Hong Kong from 8 January 2023.
However, there will be a quota for the initial phase of cross-border quarantine-free travel.
In the past 3 years, Hong Kong residents were only able to enter mainland China through the city’s airport or at two check-points – one at Shenzhen Bay and the other at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.
Hong Kong and China have been seeking to breathe new life into their economy, after it was battered by their draconian COVID-related measures.
Natixis, a French-based investment bank, estimated that the Chinese territory’s economy lost around US$27 billion in potential economic growth after Hong Kong failed to meet its annual GDP growth target of 2.8 percent from 2020 to 2022.
However, there has been an influx of Hong Kong residents in local clinics, as they want to get inoculated against coronavirus ahead of the border reopening. This is because some fear there could be a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, and demand for mRNA vaccines from the West could also spike as these are not widely available in the Chinese mainland.