In a bid to cut down on the phenomenon of “parallel trading,” Shenzhen’s permanent residents are to be limited to once-a-week visits to the former British colony.
The new policy, issued by the Shenzhen municipal government after being given the go-ahead by the State Council, is expected to cut down the number of visitors to Hong Kong by around 30 percent.
According to the South China Morning Post, although the policy has been formally announced, no date has been given for when the change will come into effect. Trips will not roll over from one week to the next, they must be used or they will expire.
Prior to the change in regulations, Shenzhen permanent residents could apply for multiple-entry permits which allowed them to make an unlimited number of trips between Hong Kong and the mainland.
A Hong Kong government source said that the restriction on visitors would lead to 4.6 million less visitors per year entering the territory, which would help crack down on parallel traders who buy products in Hong Kong and resell them at a profit across the border.
Residents of Sheung Shui, a town close to the Chinese border, say that parallel trading has pushed up retail prices and negatively impacted their daily life, while importers argue that the presence of the traders is a boon to the Hong Kong economy.
Tensions have been running high in Hong Kong over the seemingly limitless numbers of mainland residents entering the territory, with recent protests targeting mainland Chinese shoppers often ending violently.
By Dominic Jackson
[Image via Wikimedia]