HK to receive new pair of giant pandas soon; non-Chinese permanent residents can apply for mainland travel permit from Jul 10
Published: Jul 01, 2024 09:43 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

On the occasion of the 27th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on Monday, the city welcomed two good news stories as it will soon receive another pair of giant pandas from the Chinese mainland, while non-Chinese permanent residents in the city and in Macao can apply for travel documents to mainland starting from July 10, a move to further facilitate the exchange and interaction between the mainland the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs). 

At a ceremony of celebrating the anniversary on Monday morning, the HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee announced that the central government has agreed to gift another pair of giant pandas to Hong Kong, with the pair scheduled to arrive in the city in coming months. 

The HKSAR government has begun preparatory work for welcoming the giant pandas, a government spokesperson said. 

"I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the central government for gifting another pair of giant pandas to the HKSAR, which fully demonstrates its care and support for our city. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which makes this gift even more special,” Lee said. 

The two pairs of giant pandas given by the central government in the past have accompanied generations of Hong Kong residents, which is the collective memory of all, the CE said. “The new pair of giant pandas will become close 'family members' of Hong Kong residents, bringing us laughter and joy,” Lee added. 

A number of deputies from the HKSAR to this year’s annual national two sessions have put forward some proposals including the hope that Southwest China’s Sichuan Province will once again gift giant pandas to Hong Kong.

As the first generation of giant pandas living in Hong Kong, An An and Jia Jia, have passed away, leaving only Ying Ying and Le Le, who arrived in 2007, Ocean Park Hong Kong is ready to welcome new giant pandas at any time, several deputies confirmed. 

Chan Yung, Vice Chair of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, told the Global Times in an earlier interview that there is a chance that the mainland will gift the new pair between October 1. 

Also on Monday morning, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced that to further facilitate the exchange and interaction between people from the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, and to support the better integration of the two SARs into the national development agenda, starting from July 10, 2024, travel documents for entering and exiting the mainland will be issued to non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macao.

Currently, non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macao, like their Chinese counterparts, have an increasing need to visit the mainland for investment inspections, business negotiations, academic seminars, technological exchanges, and tourism. The exchanges and interactions between people from Hong Kong, Macao, and the mainland are becoming more frequent and closer, the NIA said. 

Residents of Hong Kong and Macao can voluntarily apply for a mainland travel permit. Holders of the permit can travel to the mainland multiple times within the five-year validity period of the permit, with each stay not exceeding 90 days, the authority noted. 

The implementation of this new policy will further promote extensive exchanges and facilitate business and trade investments, cultural tourism, educational research, and other activities. 

In an article published on Monday, Lee said that One Country, Two Systems is an unprecedented  innovation with great vitality and immense superiority, and adhering to the good policy of One Country, Two Systems in the long run enables Hong Kong to advance from stability to prosperity. 

To advance from stability to prosperity, Hong Kong needs to fully leverage its distinctive advantage of having strong support from the motherland and close connection with the world under One Country, Two Systems, and actively integrate into the overall national development to inject continuous impetus into the growth of Hong Kong.

Over the 27 years since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, One Country, Two Systems has been put into practice and been tested on all fronts for 27 years, Lee said. 

Facts have proved that no matter how uncertain the world is, no matter how the US and some Western countries bully and curb our country's peaceful development, and no matter how many difficulties and obstacles the territory has encountered, with the staunch support from our country and the concerted efforts of all citizens, Hong Kong has gone from strength to strength, he noted. 

A flag-raising ceremony was also held at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai on Monday morning, marking the anniversary, which was also the first one after the completion of Article 23 legislation. 

Former CEs Leung Chun-ying, Tsang Yam-kuen, and Carrie Lam were among the attendees to the ceremony. The first CE, Tung Chee-hwa, was absent, according to local media reports. 

The flag escort team carried the national flag and the regional flag to the flagpoles for the flag-raising ceremony. During the flag-raising, all guests stood solemnly, facing the national and regional flags.

The police band performed during the ceremony, and the choir of Kwun Tong Government Secondary School sang the national anthem under the lead of a soloist. After the national and regional flags were raised to the top of the flagpoles, the disciplined services saluted in the air and on the sea.
Global Times