Beijing urged to open borders to Macao-based foreigners
Six CPPCC delegates point to the city’s track record fighting Covid-19, stressing that freeing up movement will boost trade and recovery.
Six of the city’s top political movers and shakers are urging Beijing to allow Macao-based foreigners back into the mainland.
The six – who are all members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) – called on the central government to lift visiting restrictions on foreign nationals holding a Macao ID card and foreign non-resident workers in Macao. Permission would only be granted if they have been staying in Macao for over 28 days before their intended trip and also have a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming that they have tested negative for Covid-19 within the past week.
The proposal was put together by Chong Sio Kin, Tina Ho Teng Iat, Leonel Alberto Alves, Ung Pui Kun, Wan Nang Hon, and Eddie Wong Yue Kai, who are attending the ongoing annual session of the CPPCC National Committee in Beijing.
Chong is a property developer, while Tina Ho, a businesswoman, is the sister of Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng. Alves, a lawyer by profession, is a former local lawmaker, while Ung, who trained as a nurse, heads the private Kiang Wu Hospital. Wan works in the media, while Wong is an architect.
Due to the pandemic, almost all foreign nationals – including those living in Macao – have been barred from entering the mainland since March last year.
Last week, the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Macau started to accept mainland visa applications by foreign residents living in Macao through the China Online Visa Application system. The commissioner’s office said that “for the time being” it only accepts applications for M (business, trade) and F (research, cultural exchange, etc.) visas.
Only Macao permanent or non-permanent ID cardholders who have been staying in Macao for at least two consecutive months before the intended trip are eligible, The Macau Post Daily reported.
The six Macao CPPCC members’ proposal pointed out that foreign nationals who have been staying in Macao for over 28 days pose a “very low” Covid-19 risk to the mainland, like all other Macao residents who are allowed to visit the mainland without having to undergo quarantine.
While the whole mainland lifted its quarantine requirement for arrivals from Macao on last 12 August, it is only applicable to Macao residents holding a Home Return Permit and mainlanders, meaning that foreign nationals even holding a Macao ID card are not covered by the quarantine lifting.
The six local CPPCC members’ proposal pointed out that both the mainland and Macao have made a “very good” achievement in bringing Covid-19 under control because of which travel between the mainland and Macao has been gradually relaxed since last year, including the resumption of the issuing of travel permits for all mainlanders to visit Macao, which started last September. The proposal underlined that no mainland visitors who had visited Macao have been confirmed as Covid-19 patients after returning to the mainland from Macao.
The proposal also noted that since December last year Macao has allowed certain foreign nationals without a Macao ID card, such as non-resident workers, the spouses or offspring of a Macao resident, or those who have been admitted to local higher education institutions, to enter the city, as long as they have been staying in the mainland for at least 21 days prior to their arrival here.
The proposal said that the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions between the mainland and Macao can further boost visits between the two regions while Covid-19 can remain under control.
The proposal pointed out that “many” local Portuguese nationals holding a Macao permanent ID card live and work in Macao. As they are foreign nationals they cannot hold a Home Return Permit, the proposal noted, adding that therefore they currently cannot enter the mainland, despite the fact that they are Macao residents.
The proposal also pointed out that the “many” foreign non-resident workers who are living and working in “various sectors” in Macao currently also cannot enter the mainland.
The proposal said that “in the viewpoint of Covid-19 prevention and control”, the two kinds of foreign nationals living in Macao pose a “very low” Covid-19 risk to the mainland as long as they have been staying in Macao for over 28 days before their intended trip to the mainland. “They have the same risk as all other Macao residents [who are allowed to visit the mainland],” the proposal said.
“In the viewpoint of accurate Covid-19 prevention and control work, a possible relaxation of the restrictions for them [the two kinds of foreign nationals living in Macao] to visit the mainland could be considered,” the proposal said.
“They work and live in Macao, contributing to the development of Macao as well as the Greater Bay Area, many of whom are actively working on promoting economic and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries,” the proposal said.