Non-Chinese permanent residents in Hong Kong hail new travel permit to mainland
Published: Jul 10, 2024 08:50 PM
The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

"Finally, we can apply for permit like other Hong Kong residents," Will Bedoucha, a business consultant, told the Global Times on Wednesday on the first day non-Chinese residents in Hong Kong could apply for a new travel permit to go to the Chinese mainland. 

Starting from July 10, 2024, non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macao are eligible for a card-type mainland travel permit, to enhance convenience of clearance at entry points of the mainland, facilitating their visit to the mainland for business, traveling and visiting relatives.

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, China's National Immigration Administration announced on July 1. 

The South China Morning Post reported that slots at a Hong Kong Island center offering registration for the new travel permit are booked out for the first three weeks after the policy was launched. 

Foreigners living in Hong Kong hailed the new policy when talking with the Global Times on Wednesday. Bedoucha, a French passport holder who was born and raised in Hong Kong, said he applied for the document "the very day the news was launched."

"I travel once every two weeks to Shenzhen just for shopping and dining. It's so easy to go there as it's a good little break from the city and I live 15 minutes away from Shenzhen," he said. 

"I carry a French passport and so I was not eligible for the Home Return Permit as I was not born Chinese. Unlike those with Chinese backgrounds, we previously couldn't apply for permits," he said, noting that crossing the border with a passport can take more than 40 minutes to an hour. 

A Canadian living in Hong Kong since 2000 said he is going to apply for the permit. "My wife is Chinese, and I have many friends in the mainland and I go there almost every month," he told the Global Times. He said he also believes the integration of the Greater Bay Area is accelerating. 

He noted that the application process should be smooth. "I suspect that there might be too many people applying at this moment so I will wait a bit for it to calm down." 

Some business tycoons also showed up on Wednesday at the China Travel Service center for applying the permit, Ming Pao reported. 

Sino Group chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong, who has Singaporean nationality, along with his children, applied for the permit this morning. He was quoted as saying in the media report after applying that the measure would bring great benefits to Hong Kong, demonstrating the country's strong support for the city under One Country, Two Systems. 

The new policies facilitate non-Chinese permanent residents of both SARs to explore opportunities in the mainland, especially Beijing, Shanghai and South China's Guangdong Province. They may devote themselves to engaging in business, innovation, entrepreneurship, partnerships and pursuing studies, Chu Kar-kin, a veteran current affairs commentator and deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Association for Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

They may also consider China as their second home and input capital, patents, talent, workmanship, technology and overseas networks to the country, Chu said. 

Government figures show that in the first half of 2024, China received 14.635 million foreign travelers, up 152.7 percent year-on-year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Among them, 8.542 million entered China visa-free, up 190.1 percent year-on-year. As more and more countries benefit from the visa-free policy and as China adopts more measures to ease cross-border travel, "on-a-whim travel" to China is becoming a reality, Lin said. 

Competent government agency expects more foreigners to travel to China in the second half of this year. The "China travel" boom stems from China's unique charm, and more importantly, an open and inclusive Chinese society, and the warm and hospitable Chinese people. It is also the result of China's high-standard opening up, the spokesperson said.