Hong Kong leader cancels visit to China because of Covid-19 outbreak

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong canceled a visit to mainland China because the Covid-19 situation was more serious on both sides.

Mr. Lee plans to visit technology hubs Shenzhen and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, in his first visit to mainland China since taking office as leader of Hong Kong in July. He is expected to discuss discuss the plan to resume travel between Hong Kong and the mainland.

However, the trip was canceled due to the more severe Covid-19 outbreak in both Hong Kong and the mainland. Mr. Lee said on August 31 that instead of going to the mainland, he would have a video conference.

“We will discuss the option of resumption of travel for the people of Hong Kong and mainland China. We hope to reach consensus after thorough discussion,” he said.

Mr. Ly Gia Sieu at the press conference of the Belt and Road Conference in Hong Kong on August 31.  Photo: AFP

Mr. Ly Gia Sieu at the Belt and Road Conference press conference in Hong Kong on August 31. Image: AFP

The canceled trip shows Hong Kong’s difficulty between balancing the need to reopen with the rest of the world, and establishing travel options with mainland China, which is closed.

Hong Kong also applies mainland China’s No Covid-19 policy but is more flexible. Measures to limit Covid-19 have adversely affected the city’s economy, making brain drain more serious when rivals like Singapore accept to live with Covid-19.

Mr. Lee pledged to reopen tourism to both mainland and international, but so far there are still many limitations. Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government reduced the mandatory isolation period for international visitors from 7 days to three days. Business circles are calling for him to drop this rule altogether, but Hong Kong has yet to give a specific time frame for reopening.

Meanwhile, many locals and businesses are losing hope of resuming travel to the mainland. Mr. Lee and top Hong Kong officials said hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers need to regularly move to the mainland for study, business and family reasons.

Hong Kong recorded more than 8,800 infections and 13 deaths from Covid-19 on August 30. Officials warned to tighten social distancing measures if the number of infections continued to increase.

Shenzhen on August 30 also stepped up measures to limit Covid-19 after it first recorded 35 cases of subtype BF.15, which is more contagious than the old Omicron strains.

Hong Hanh (Theo AFP)

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