søndag 14. november 2021

Is Hong Kong now just another Chinese city?

Hong Kong is about to reopen. After a long pandemic that has seen travel collapse, this most international of cities is getting ready to throw its borders open again. But there’s a catch. The territory is only opening its borders one way – to China. For the rest of the world, entry into Hong Kong is about to get harder, rather than easier.

Last Friday (Nov 5), Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she expects Hong Kong’s borders with China to open up on a “large scale” by February. Yet just over a week earlier, on Oct 26, Lam also announced that visitors from overseas beyond China will have even tighter restrictions for entering the territory.

Hong Kong maintains one of the stiffest COVID-19 entry policies in the world, with almost all visitors subject to mandatory 14- or 21-day hotel quarantines. Exemptions for some travellers, such as diplomats and business leaders, have been cancelled. It is unsurprising that Hong Kong would prioritise its border with China over the rest of the world – when they are part of the same country and China has been Hong Kong’s largest trade partner since 1985.