Hong Kong Economic Times
16th September 2013
No Need to Reduce the 150 One-Way Permit Quota
For years, Chinese residents move to Hong Kong to reunite with their families via the one-way permit system. The current one-way permit quota stands at 150 per day. There are discussions demanding a review of the system and a reduction of such quota. In this article, I wish to focus on the goal and current situation of this system.
First, I would like to point out that the evaluation process of one-way permits is based on constitution. Article 22(4) of the Basic Law states that all individuals who enter Hong Kong from China or any other countries have to go through approval process. Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress explained in 1999 that such restriction means that no matter what reason a China resident has for going to Hong Kong, he/she needs to apply for approval from the relevant departments in where he/she locates in line with the relevant laws and administrative regulations. He/she must also hold the documents issued by the relevant departments (before going to Hong Kong). This means that any China resident who wishes to reunite with their families in Hong Kong or emigrate to Hong Kong, he/she must apply for the one-way permit from the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security in the province his/her household is registered.
The implementation of the one-way permit system aims at allowing China residents to reunite with their families in an orderly manner under the evaluations of government departments in China based on relevant regulations and laws. This system is not a system for importing talents. With this clear goal and constitutional basis, there is no reason to change the current evaluation process which is done by China’s government departments.
In fact, the relevant departments in China established a “scoring system” in May 1997, offering an open and transparent one-way permit evaluation system (qualified applicants are: spouses, children under 18 years old, parents with no dependents in China, adult children who need to look after their elder parents who have no dependents in Hong Kong, holders of Certificate of Entitlement). The relevant departments in China will evaluate each application based on this standards. The “scoring system” is updated every year and is published via media and online. Some provincial Public Security departments will make some of the applicants’ names public, allowing applicants to check the progress of their applications online.
Since 1th April 2011, China began to allow adult children in China with Hong Kong residents parents to apply for one-way permit in order to fully utilise the quota.
Some suggest that the quote is too high, and some defend the goal of protecting people’s rights to reunite with their families. A quota system can ensure that the substantial amount of China based families of Hong Kong residents can emigrate to Hong Kong in an orderly manner, also ensure that medical, housing, social wealth, education and other supporting policies in Hong Kong can accommodate their needs.
In terms of a long term plan, Hong Kong SAR government has already included new immigrants via one-way permit system in its population growth forecast. All government departments will consider this matter when they plan for public policies and services.
We will listen to opinions from different parts of the society and consider the overall well being of Hong Kong, and continue to exchange ideas with the relevant departments in China in terms of the system and quota.
Besides one-way permit, there are opinions suggesting that a review of the individual travel permit system. The Hong Kong SAR government is currently evaluating Hong Kong’s overall carrying, coping and tourism capacities. Once the evaluation is completed, the government will exchange ideas with China’s relevant departments.
By Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Security