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Greater Bay Area

Proposals floated to make it easier for Hong Kong people to live and work in ‘Greater Bay Area’

DAB party wants Hongkongers to be allowed to apply for mainland Chinese government jobs and secure identity cards from there

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 11:50am

Hongkongers should be allowed to apply for mainland Chinese government jobs and issued with identity cards from there as part of incentives to build up the “Greater Bay Area”, according to the biggest political party in the Legislative Council.

The pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) also suggested that Hongkongers working in the bay area could be allowed to pay salaries tax in the mainland at the much lower Hong Kong rate.

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The Greater Bay Area concept is a major policy initiative by Premier Li Keqiang to create a world-class technology hub based on the further integration of Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities.

“The idea of an identity card for Kong Kong people who live and work in the Greater Bay Area would be like foreigners working in Hong Kong getting a Hong Kong ID card. It will be on a voluntary basis and is intended to make living there more convenient,” party chairwoman and lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king said.

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Currently, Hong Kong people use their home return permit as an identity document when they travel to the mainland, but it is not accepted for a lot of services including electronic payments.

“There are difficulties with WeChat payments and opening bank accounts. But if they have an identity card, it will be easier,” Lee said.

She rejected suggestions there would be any confusion over identity. “If a Hong Kong resident has a home return permit, he or she is already a Chinese citizen,” Lee said.

The party suggested that Hong Kong people be allowed to apply for government jobs in Guangdong province, which they are not allowed to do at present.

The party said the move would allow Hong Kong people to “join the province’s governing system”, which also includes serving on juries, “to improve cross-border communication”.

The DAB also suggested easing the tax burden on Hong Kong people working in the bay area by paying Hong Kong’s rate, which peaks at 15 per cent. This is much lower than the mainland rate of 35 to 50 per cent.

“If they know they don’t need to pay a higher tax, it will increase their appetite for working across the border,” another party lawmaker, Holden Chow Ho-ting, said.

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The DAB also said children of Hong Kong people working in the area should be allowed to attend local schools, telecommunication charges in the area should be lowered and there should be no quota on vehicles from Hong Kong using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge to get to the mainland. Motorists should also be allowed to use their Hong Kong number plates.

Commenting on the DAB suggestions, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said he was concerned about the privacy of Hong Kong residents if they obtained a mainland identity card.

“There is a question as to whether Hong Kong people’s privacy will be protected by the mainland authorities,” Lam said.

He also questioned why such recommendations applied to the bay area only. “There are lots of Hong Kong people working in other mainland cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Why are they treated differently ?” Lam said.