'Togetherness' as one family

Updated: 2017-03-15 07:55

By Luis Liu(HK Edition)

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 'Togetherness' as one family

National People's Congress deputy Stanley Ng Chau-pei is pushing for greater efforts to ease the restrictions on Hong Kong people who want to live a convenient life on the Chinese mainland. Luis Liu / China Daily

NPC deputy calls for scrapping of obstacles to make HK people on mainland feel they're at home

Measures should be taken to include Hong Kong people in the mainland's broader society as the country evolves, and this is a "must take" step for people from both sides to feel "togetherness", a deputy to the nation's top legislature and chairman of Hong Kong's biggest trade union says.

The inclusion could start with easing restrictions on Hong Kong people who want to live a convenient life on the mainland, Stanley Ng Chau-pei said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

During the years it has helped Hong Kong people living on the mainland, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) found there are still challenges for Hong Kong people living across the boundary, he noted.

The problems include difficulties in obtaining identity documents, restrictions on enjoying public services and the notary requirements on documents from Hong Kong.

Restrictions on the use of identity documents on the mainland confuse most people, Ng said. For example, most Hong Kong people usually choose airlines or high-speed trains when traveling on the mainland. But Hong Kong people who transfer to flights to other countries in mainland cities found there's an inconsistency - some mainland airports require a Hong Kong SAR passport while others demand the Mainland Travel Permit issued by the central government for Hong Kong and Macao people.

Relevant mainland authorities should set a universally applicable guideline for all mainland airports, Ng said.

High-speed trains involve more hassles for Hong Kong people. Mainland residents have a mainland ID card but Hong Kong people cannot directly enter a train station by swiping their identity documents. They need to queue up for another long period to fetch their ticket, even after having made a booking online, Ng said. The high-speed train is a symbolic icon of the country's rapid development, "but it will be saddening if Hong Kong people are barred from enjoying the great convenience".

Many Hong Kong people also can't access the full service of popular mainland apps, such as WeChat and Alipay, as they do not have mainland identity cards, Ng noted.

This bars them from using many other mobile services, he said. "They can't live like an urban Chinese as mobile apps are now the keys to various public services and are part of the nation's lifestyle," Ng said.

"All these are tiny woes, but the frustration hurts Hong Kong people's feeling of togetherness with their compatriots."

These problems are technically solvable and authorities need to work out a way to help Hong Kong people who live on the mainland merge into the nation's new way of life, Ng said.

"Similar lifestyles would translate into a sense of bonding. For Hong Kong, it can grow into a stronger national identity."

He also called for e-payment and internet-plus models to be made available to Hong Kong people. Currently, more than 350,000 Hong Kong people work and live on the mainland, accounting for 5 percent of Hong Kong's population, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said last year. Most of them live in Guangdong or Fujian provinces, or mega cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, according to official statistics, and the number has been increasing.

The FTU also found Hong Kong people often have to struggle to go through extra procedures for simple services and paper work on the mainland.

"Many complained that the mainland authorities refuse to accept Hong Kong-issued certificates," Ng said. These include birth, death, marriage certificates and deeds for properties. The only way to proceed with the relevant paperwork is to go to a notary office.

"The Hong Kong SAR government and the mainland authorities need to find a feasible way to work out a mutual recognition system," Ng said. This will save considerable time and money for Hong Kong people living on the mainland," he stressed.


(HK Edition 03/15/2017 page8)