Rant: borderline ridiculous
I've been a permanent resident of Hong Kong for more than 10 years. I pay my taxes, vote and consider myself to be a reasonably productive citizen of my particular special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.
While I generally look forward to the occasional jaunt over the border, there's one issue that always takes a spring out of my step: the visa. It's a hassle, it's expensive (I recently paid more than HK$1,000 for a six-month visa) and, most importantly, it shouldn't be required by permanent residents of what has been a Chinese city for 15 years.
If I was considered a potential splittist or an undesirable, I'm guessing that would have been an issue when the city authorities were considering my application for permanent residency. But it was granted without any dramas in 2002.
Can anyone explain why I shouldn't be given the same right of entry to the mainland enjoyed by ethnic Chinese people in Hong Kong? It really irritates me that the government doesn't differentiate between a 17-year resident of Hong Kong and a backpacker who may have just landed yesterday.
And don't get me started on how the visas themselves obnoxiously occupy one full page of my passport.
Yes, I love that my resident status allows me to breeze through immigration when I return after a holiday, but I'm not asking for similar treatment when I head north. All I want is the same visa-free access enjoyed by my fellow Hongkongers.
As it is, it's another reminder that, to many people, I'll always be just another gweilo in this city that I love and call home.