Hong Kong Targets To Reopen Border With China Soon
HONG KONG – After returning from high-level meetings in Beijing, Chief Executive John Lee told the media on Saturday that the commercial hub targets to reopen its border with China by the middle of January 2023, reported Agence-France-Presse (AFP) on Sunday morning (25 December, SGT).
Notably, Hong Kong’s borders with China have been effectively closed for almost 3 years, as the latter imposed a zero-COVID policy involving mass testing, sudden lockdowns, and harsh travel curbs that significantly impacted China’s economy.
At present, Hong Kong residents who intend to travel to China need to pass one of several border control points and are required to undergo mandatory quarantine.
After suddenly reversing its zero-COVID strategy in November 2022 after mass protests, government officials in mainland China have been facing a spike in COVID infections across the nations, with many morgues and hospitals exceeding their capacity.
Despite the surge in COVID infections, Lee stated that Hong Kong’s borders with China would be restored to its state before the virus outbreak.
“The central government has agreed to the full reopening of the border in a gradual and orderly manner,” he told journalists after arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport.
Government officials on both sides of the border will submit a proposal requiring Beijing’s approval, “intending to be implemented before mid-January”, Lee added.
Notably, Lee met Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping last week during a 4-day trip to Beijing – the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s first trip there since taking office in July 2022.
Xi said he “fully affirmed” the work of Lee’s government and lauded the Chief Executive for protecting national security and reviving Hong Kong’s economy.
Notably, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) implemented a less stringent version of Beijing’s zero-COVID policy. The city has also recently started withdrawing COVID-related curbs in an attempt to revive Hong Kong’s global business ties.
Lee said he anticipates that the reopening of the borders will lead to an increase in cross-border travel. Thus, government officials from both sides of the border are looking at imposing daily quotas.
Furthermore, Hong Kong police officers and customs staff have been instructed to return to their border posts after Christmas.