China today imposed restrictions on travel to Hong Kong, limiting the number of visits to “one visit a week” to ease the tension over the growing number of mainland Chinese visitors flocking to the former British colony.
China restricted the residents of its coastal city Shenzhen from visiting neighbouring Hong Kong to once-a-week.
The residents will no longer receive unlimited multiple entry permits to enter Hong Kong after a policy was enacted to restrict their travel to “one visit a week.”
Shenzhen residents holding annual entry permits to Hong Kong can now enter the city once a week with a maximum stay of seven days per visit,a circular released by the Ministry of Public Security said.
The Chinese move comes as discontent simmers in Hong Kong over the growing numbers of mainland Chinese travellers, who have been blamed for distorting local economy with their voracious buying of smartphones, cosmetics, medicine and luxury goods.
Citizens of Shenzhen, Hong Kong’s neighbouring city on the mainland, were previously allowed unlimited visits to Hong Kong with their entry permit, making a daily round-trip to Hong Kong viable.
The decision was made by the central government after huge numbers of tourists from the mainland put a strain on Hong Kong’s accommodation capacity, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the circular as saying.
Increasing presence of thousands Chinese, through resulted in businesses also contributed to the resentment of locals as it put strain on social security and jobs.
Hong Kong in recent months also witnessed widespread protests, over China attempts to screen contestants for the 2017 elections for the Chief Executive post.
The previous multiple visit policy was launched upon the request of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, and helped boost Hong Kong’s economy, create local jobs and enhance people-to-people exchanges between the two cities.
Shenzhen citizens can still apply for unlimited multiple entry permits in a case-by-case approach if they can prove the permit is necessary. Their application should be filed to Shenzhen entry and exit authorities, the circular said.