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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Hong Kong Chief Executive sees China border opening by February

ap_hong_kong_airport_coronavirus_covid-19.jpg
AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim
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Hong Kong International Airport

Starting Monday, vaccinated foreign nationals can come to the United States without quarantine. But many arriving passengers will still face some restrictions when they head home.

Travelers from Japan will still need to go through quarantine when they return, and those coming from Hong Kong face some of the toughest restrictions anywhere.

Hong Kong is doing everything it can to speed up a border reopening with mainland China — one that will let residents of both locations skip any quarantine.

While that’s a priority for Hong Kong’s government, it’s a growing frustration for many in the city’s international business community.

Hong Kong is taking an approach similar to China when it comes to visitors and COVID-19 — trying to keep the virus out, rather than living with it.

That’s a sharp contrast to other regional business centers such as Singapore.

Passengers arriving in Hong Kong can spend two to three weeks in hotel quarantine — and many in the foreign business community say that’s hurting Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business center.

So far, the criticism hasn’t fazed Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam — who has made it clear that she feels China is the most important connection.

On Friday, she said Hong Kong could reopen borders with mainland China on a “large scale” by February.

Lam notes that next year marks the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule, telling a local gathering, “I hope everyone here works together to create the environment for us to reopen borders with the mainland smoothly.”

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