'Shenzhen Limit On Visits To HK Has Collapsed'

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2019-07-11 HKT 14:28

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  • 'Shenzhen limit on visits to HK has collapsed'

  • Sheung Shui residents say parallel traders are making their lives a misery. File photo: AFP

    Sheung Shui residents say parallel traders are making their lives a misery. File photo: AFP

Restrictions on the number of times Shenzhen residents can visit Hong Kong that were introduced following protests against parallel traders can be skirted in minutes and for just 15 yuan, the Democratic Party claimed on Thursday.

In 2015, mainland authorities announced that Shenzhen residents would now only be allowed to use their multiple-entry visas to enter Hong Kong once per week, with the move predicted to cut the number of border crossings by several million a year.

But Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting said a colleague has discovered that people can easily get around this restriction by repeatedly reapplying for a visa under the mainland's Individual Visit Scheme.

Lam said their investigation found that this can be done via machines in Shenzhen, with the process taking just three minutes and costing only 15 yuan.

The lawmaker said the Hong Kong government appears to have been turning a blind eye to the problem and it must contact the mainland authorities to plug this loophole.

"The entire system has already collapsed. Just after they use the endorsement, they can reapply at once. So they could come to Hong Kong at any time as they wish, and there is no limitation. They could come twice or three times every day," Lam said.

"It is obviously against the original purpose of the policy. It is also a loophole for those mainlanders who come to Hong Kong to engage in illegal activities, including providing prostitution, parallel trading activities, and illegal workers."

Earlier this year, protests against parallel traders in areas near the border started up again, with residents of Sheung Shui in particular claiming that their lives are being made a misery by large numbers of mainland visitors flocking to the area to buy up essential goods in bulk to resell across the border.