Visa relaxation

New Territories residents protest Shenzhen influx

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 8:00pm

Residents from the New Territories on Wednesday protested outside the government’s headquarters in Admiralty against Shenzhen’s plan to allow non-residents to visit Hong Kong on multiple-entry permits.

The plan is due to come into force next month.

Representatives and members of the Democratic Party who joined the protest said the relaxation of permit rules would result in more smugglers becoming active in North District as well as pushing up prices of daily commodities.

They urged the Hong Kong government to ask the Shenzhen authorities to put the new measure on hold.

The plan announced by Shenzhen last week will allow 4.1 million of its non-permanent residents to visit Hong Kong on multiple-entry permits under the individual visit scheme.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun also called for the slowing down or shelving of the relaxation of visiting rules, saying many Shenzhen non-residents might enter Hong Kong as illegal workers and smugglers, but not as genuine visitors. He also called on the government to negotiate limits on what kind of Shenzhen residents were given multiple-entry permits.

The multiple-visit permits were previously available only to the border city’s 2.8 million holders of hukou or residents’ permits. Non-permanent residents had to return to their home provinces to apply for permits.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged that his government would control the number of mainland visitors entering the city amid growing concern over Shenzhen’s new measure.