Mainland will not block requests to visit HK relatives Mainland abode seekers who have overstayed in Hong Kong but who decide to return to the mainland will not be discriminated against when applying to visit relatives in the city, a security official was quoted as saying. The assurance was relayed by Ma Lik, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, who yesterday met Cui Zhikun, director of exit-entry administration under the Ministry of Public Security, in Beijing. Mr Ma flew to Beijing on Thursday in an effort to secure entry to Hong Kong for some mainland abode seekers who have stayed on illegally in Hong Kong after being denied the right to settle. A grace period for these overstayers to leave the special administrative region expired in March 2002, and some abode seekers who have returned to the mainland have said public security officers in some cities have banned them from applying to return to Hong Kong for up to four years. More than 3,000 mainland residents are seeking to have their stay with parents in Hong Kong recognised, abode-seekers' group the Request for Family Reunion Association said. Mr Ma said most were afraid to return to the mainland because they would be punished. His meetings in Beijing came three days after 13 overstayers were seized during a meeting of the Request for Family Reunion Association and expelled to the mainland. 'The ministry agreed it would not impose restrictions on applications from [overstayers] for fresh visits to the city [for] family reunion,' Mr Ma said. This would apply to overstayers provided they returned to the mainland in accordance with laws, he quoted Mr Cui as saying. Mr Ma, also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said public security officials agreed to consider his proposal to issue one-year multi-entry permits for travel to Hong Kong for mainland residents awaiting the one-way permits that would enable them to settle in the city.