CHINA is to open its border with Hong Kong 24 hours, crack down on checkpoint corruption, and revamp border management in an effort to ease massive traffic congestion. Senior Chinese official Yu Xiaosong envisaged the Lok Ma Chau border crossing could be opened as early as May 1. The new policy would only be viable after the completion of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Highway, which diverts traffic from the centre of the city to prevent noise pollution, he said. The measures were announced after a two-day meeting in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Mr Yu, the vice-director of the State Economic and Trade Commission, said the serious congestion of border checkpoints had led to huge economic losses created by the traffic jam at the checkpoint, where 60 per cent of China's vehicles leave the country. He said there was a need to increase the capacity of vehicle flow in order to speed up economic growth for Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Zhang Hongyi, the vice-mayor of Shenzhen, said details were still under discussion. Noting that the 24-hour opening might give rise to problems of traffic management and security, Mr Zhang said measures would be imposed to control night-time traffic on the road. Permission would be required for vehicles that used the road around the clock, he said. The Government would also look into measures to combat smugglers, who could take advantage of loose security at night. Further ways to reduce the disturbance to residents living near the highway would also be studied, Mr Zhang said. The extension of the opening hours will be accompanied by a series of measures to streamline and improve cross-border procedures. One of them, according to Mr Yu, is the implementation of new methods to fight corruption. The lack of openness in the port administration has given rise to loopholes for corruption, he said. Clear guidelines would be issued as to the circumstances in which a lorry would be inspected. This would aim to prevent officers exercising their discretion to drivers who gave bribes. Information on the channels of complaint will also be placed at the inspection area. In addition, border management will undergo reforms, with the original military system replaced by the civil service. This would mean more stable staffing of the border office, with the retention of expertise. The present structure involves offices such as the Public Security Ministry, the Animal and Plant Inspection Office, the Immigration Office, the Agricultural Office and the State Council's Port Office. Other measures to be introduced are the streamliningof cross-border and inspection procedures as well as the introduction of a unified charging system, all to be implemented on March 1 this year. Advanced inspection technology, such as X-ray machines, will also be installed to shorten the time for inspection.