Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee has said that the border between mainland China and Hong Kong is to open “fully” in a “gradual, orderly way”, with initial steps slated to take place before mid-January.
According to Bloomberg, Lee was speaking in a press briefing as he returned from his first official visit to Beijing as chief executive.
Lee said that a team from Hong Kong would speak to counterparts in Shenzhen and Guangdong to formulate a plan to reopen borders. These plans would include a daily traveller quota, as well as determine which control points are to be opened.
Lee did not say what the new arrangements would be, only saying that he hoped that it would they would return to a pre-pandemic state.
Travel between mainland China and Hong Kong has been subjected to strict quarantines since the start of the pandemic, with Hong Kong at one point imposing a 21-day quarantine on inbound travellers.
As part of a loosening of travel restrictions, Hong Kong has almost entirely removed its restrictions for incoming travellers.
China, for its part, has reduced hotel quarantine for those entering from Hong Kong to five days.
John Lee goes to Beijing
Lee’s visit to Beijing is the first since becoming Chief Executive in July, taking over from Carrie Lam.
While in Beijing, he met with China’s President Xi Jinping, who himself has recently been elected to a third term.
Lee and Xi have previously met twice this year, once in Beijing after Lee was nominated, and once more in Hong Kong when Xi commemorated twenty-five years since the city returned to Chinese rule.
According to the Associated Press, Xi praised Lee’s government for its “pragmatism and its devotion to national security”.
Xinhua reported Xi as saying that China’s central government would fully support the Hong Kong’s government in “conducting extensive international cooperation, and better integrating itself into China’s overall development”.
Top image via Getty Images
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