Hong Kong won’t find it easy to restrict the flow of mainland visitors to the city under the Individual Visit Scheme, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday.
Leung made the comments in Beijing on the sidelines of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meeting, Apple Daily reported.
The chief executive said he expects to have a chance to discuss with central government authorities the policy of multi-entry visas offered to Shenzhen residents, which allow them unlimited visits to Hong Kong.
However, any caps on mainland visitor numbers can be put in place only with the consent of both the central and the local government, Leung said.
Some Chinese officials believe multi-entry visas represent an issue that relates to the travel freedom of mainlanders, and that the Hong Kong government doesn’t have the right to restrict the visitors.
A suggestion put forward by some democratic lawmakers in Hong Kong to restrict multi-entry visa holders to a maximum of eight entries per visa has also drawn objection from Shenzhen officials, as they believe such move won’t be in the city’s interests.
In recent years, discontent has been growing among Hong Kong residents against the flood of mainland visitors, especially those that engage in parallel trading activities.
Democrat Sin Chung-kai said capping the number of entries will find favor with the Hong Kong public. Cross-border students and their families can be exempted from the rule, he suggested.
Meanwhile, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a National People’s Congress deputy, was quoted as saying that restricting mainland visitors won’t be good. The Individual Visit Scheme had helped boost the Hong Kong economy, she pointed out.
Fan criticized the recent protests against parallel-goods traders, saying the demonstrations have disturbed the normal life of Hong Kong residents.
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