New policy allows Hong Kong motorists to drive to Guangdong via Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, further promoting GBA integration
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Photo: VCG
The long-awaited move to allow Hong Kong vehicles to enter the Chinese mainland was officially announced on Monday. Starting from midnight on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, qualified Hong Kong vehicle owners can drive on roads in South China's Guangdong Province via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) without undergoing additional security requests. Applications start on June 1. About 450,000 Hong Kong vehicle owners are expected to benefit from the policy.
Analysts pointed out that the announcement of this policy is one of the important initiatives of the China's central government to support the development of Hong Kong and promote the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). "The implementation of this policy enriches the practice of One Country, Two Systems principle and once again reflects a historical transformation and basic trend from separation to integration in real life, " Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong affairs from Nankai University, told the Global Times on Monday.
According to a management measure for the entry and exit of Hong Kong vehicles through the HZMB issued by the provincial government of Guangdong, starting from 9 am on June 1, 2023, the traffic management department of the Zhuhai's Public Security Bureau will begin accepting applications from Hong Kong private car owners who meet the conditions for entry into Guangdong.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)'s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu also shared the thinking about the policy the on Facebook on Monday, expressing thanks to both the central and Guangdong provincial governments for their strong support in the implementation of the new measures, stressing that the HKSAR and the provincial government of Guangdong will closely cooperate and monitor the implementation situation and strive to optimize the application process.
The Global Times learned that the "guarantee free" policy will also be implemented for the qualified drivers of Hong Kong, at the same time, relying on an integrated digital government platform and big data center. Guangdong authorities will be responsible for its application, realizing data sharing among public security, customs, border control, port and other departments, enable drivers to apply online without leaving Hong Kong, which will effectively reduce the time and cost of driving to the mainland for Hong Kong residents.The new policy, which "facilitates Hong Kong residents driving to Guangdong Province via the HZMB for short-term business, family visits or tourism, is another important milestone in embracing the Bridge's opportunities, promoting greater connectivity between the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and promoting economic integration in the region," Lee stated on Facebook.
Observers pointed out that in recent years, with the steady progress linked to the construction of the GBA, there has been a strong demand for policies allowing private cars from Hong Kong to enter Guangdong Province as exchanges have become closer and more frequent. An increasing number of Hong Kong residents choose to live, work, do business or visit relatives and travel in the mainland.
On Saturday, the first day of the May Day holidays, Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station welcomed nearly 94,000 inbound and outbound passengers, a new high since the port reopened earlier this year.
In order to fully meet the needs of people from Guangdong and HKSAR during the holidays, the number of daily vessels from Shenzhen Shekou Cruise Port to Hong Kong has increased from 22 to 28 as of Saturday, and will be maintained at this level after the holiday.
From the opening of the Individual Visit Scheme for mainland visitors to Hong Kong in 2003, to the completion of the HZMB and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High-speed Railway, the central government has been gradually exploring and scientifically planning for the continuous integration and development of Hong Kong and the Mainland to make the links between the mainland and Hong Kong even more closely bound, Li noted.
The new measure which facilitates private cars from HKSAR to drive to Guangdong further increases the flexibility of communication between Hong Kong and Chinese mainland, and also further enhances the sense of achievement and happiness of Hong Kong residents, which is of positive significance in promoting Hong Kong's further integration into the national development agenda , Li said.
According to the administrative measures, Hong Kong vehicles can only enter and leave the Zhuhai Highway port via the HZMB and drive in Guangdong Province. Each consecutive stay after entry shall not exceed 30 days, and the cumulative stay per year cannot not exceed 180 days.
"This is an exploratory pilot program, which, given the current trend of integration between the two regions, we do not rule out that more open and transformative measures will be introduced in the future," Li said.