Talks advance on Hong Kong-China border reopening

04 Nov 2021

Hong Kong and China authorities are said to be close to a final decision on travel resuming, despite another Covid outbreak on the mainland. 

Further talks are due to be held between Hong Kong and mainland China authorities, as per a report by local media Sing Tao, to determine whether Hong Kong will implement the mainland’s health code system. The code classifies people as red, yellow or green, with green being the only colour permitted for travel to the mainland.

Moreover, other rules under discussion include travel without the need to quarantine, as well as a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ to immediately halt the system in case of emergency.

These latest talks come amid mounting concerns stemming from the international business community urging Hong Kong to reopen its borders to other countries and learn to coexist with the virus, says a Finews Asia report. 

Chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam responded to the concerns by echoing the city’s two main priorities: resuming travel with mainland China and a zero-Covid policy. 

Hong Kong’s zero COVID policy, which requires the majority of arrivals to undergo 21 days of hotel quarantine, is leading many expats to leave, questioning the long-term viability of the city’s claim to being “Asia’s World City”.

“Carrie Lam is effectively constrained by Beijing, and Beijing’s view of the world at the moment is we’ve done better on COVID than everybody else, we’ve kept it out. The rest of the world is a mess, especially the West, so they are maintaining that. China doesn’t have the real need to open the border,” said a financial industry source.

“I suspect that in the next six months to a year, if this continues in the way we think it is now, you are going to see firms start moving sizable amounts of people out of Hong Kong,” the source added, saying businesses were having to pay “through the nose” to persuade overseas talent to move to Hong Kong.