The case for opening the border crossings with Shenzhen around the clock is so strong that one wonders why the Government is so hesitant about doing something the people clearly want. It was once thought that developers opposed the move because it could further drag down property prices as more people would be tempted to buy flats in Shenzhen instead of Hong Kong. But this has since been denied by developers, and the Real Estate Developers Association has even signed a joint submission with other chambers of commerce to lobby for the extension of border opening hours. At present, the border crossings are open from 6.30am to 11.30pm on weekdays, and 6.30am to midnight on public holidays. Officials argue it is unnecessary to be open during the early hours because few travellers make the trip then. Besides, the rail to Lowu must close for maintenance. But both the Lowu and Lok Ma Chau checkpoints are so congested most of the time that many people are likely to try to beat the rush by crossing after midnight. As for maintenance, a solution can certainly be found if there is the will. All agree the border needs to open around the clock eventually. Perhaps officials are merely concerned about doing it too soon. When the SAR is still reeling in recession, it is probably politically unwise to do so, as the move's immediate effect on the local retail and property sectors must be negative. A bigger issue is how 24-hour border opening will impact on the psychology of the people. Physically, the border will remain, but it will have become a mere turnstile that Hong Kong people can crisscross at will at any time. That will arguably have a damaging effect on 'two systems'. But the worry is unfounded, as the success of 'one country, two systems' does not lie in insulating Hong Kong from the mainland, but in maintaining Hong Kong's own distinctive character as a fully integrated part of China.