A CPPCC member's suggestion to allow Shenzhen residents to have up to a week's visa-free access to Hong Kong has sparked heated debates among local legislators and residents. Lo Man Tuen, a Hong Kong member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, tabled a motion last week that Shenzhen residents should be allowed to visit Hong Kong for up to seven days without having to apply for a visa. 'This would enable Shenzhen residents to come to Hong Kong to travel, do shopping on the weekend, visit friends and conduct academic exchanges, ' said Mr Lo, who claimed the recent relaxation of business travel permits and leisure tours was far from enough. He said most cross-border shopping was one way, meaning the traffic came mainly from Hong Kong to Shenzhen. According to official statistics, there were 35 million visits made by Hong Kong residents to the mainland in 2000, while a little over three million visits were made by mainlanders to Hong Kong. Mr Lo believed the visa-free access for Shenzhen residents would boost Hong Kong's retail and tourist industry. But it is for exactly this reason that Zheng Zhuohui, a Shenzhen member of the NPC, expressed reservations about the plan. 'It is not beneficial to Shenzhen's economy. The professionals and middle class will spend their dollars in Hong Kong,' he said. Some officials worry the proposal, if implemented, would put more strain on the Lowu checkpoint, according to the Southern Metropolis News. There are also worries that mainlanders would take advantage of the different systems on both sides of the border to indulge in pornographic and gambling activities in Hong Kong. But local residents and businessmen in Shenzhen said they would enjoy the prospect of being allowed visa-free access to Hong Kong. Architect Tang Wei said: 'There are so many international brands and the prices are better for such brands. I would definitely go to Hong Kong on some of the holidays and weekends.' Under existing regulations, mainlanders have to form a tour group to travel across the border. It takes at least three working days to get a visa, which costs 400 yuan (HK$376). Shenzhen businessman Wang Dan said such a plan would be conducive to business. At present it is difficult, if not impossible, to apply for business travel permits for small businesses. 'Hong Kong offers seven days of visa-free access to more than 70 countries in the world,' Mr Lo said. 'Why can't it offer the same deal to Shenzhen?'