Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will travel to Beijing later this month to ask for more policies enhancing Hongkongers’ lives over the border, fresh from securing a slew of “goodies” after her duty visit to the capital last month.
In a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council on Thursday, Lam said her administration had adopted a “proactive” approach in discussing the matter with mainland authorities.
“The year 2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the country’s open-door policy. When the policy began, Hongkongers and their companies wanted to be treated as foreigners. They wanted to be considered foreign entities,” Lam said.
However, now it would be more beneficial for Hong Kong businessmen to be considered Chinese nationals when handling their investments across the border, she said.
Following her duty visit to Beijing in December when President Xi Jinping praised her “good start” in office and “fostering stability” in the city, Lam announced several benefits she obtained for Hongkongers living on the mainland.
She said the central government had agreed to allow more Hong Kong children to study in public schools; enable Hong Kong graduates of mainland universities to find jobs more easily by issuing them an employment certificate; and permit Hongkongers working on the mainland to contribute to a fund that helps them own property.
Lam did not elaborate on the policies she would request in Beijing this month. But she said she was aware of the 16 suggestions the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had submitted to Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui when they met last week.
The city’s leader said the party’s ideas “basically” matched what her administration had in mind.
Among the suggestions was to issue mainland identity cards to Hongkongers living in Guangdong province; reduce mortgage restrictions on Hongkongers who buy property in Guangdong; scrap the requirement that Hongkongers furnish proof of their mainland residence in their commercial or public activities; and charge Hongkongers the same for public medical fees as Guangdong residents.
Kevin Lam Tsz-kam, a final-year student at Renmin University in Beijing, said he wanted a mainland identity card. He noted Hongkongers’ nine- or 11-digit home return permits need to be altered as public and commercial services systems on the mainland are designed for 18 digits that the codes on mainland identity cards contain.
“And in some university dormitories on the mainland, Hong Kong students are not allowed to live with mainlanders,” he said.
Henry Ho Kin-chung, convenor of the think tank One Country Two Systems Youth Forum, said mainland authorities could also consider lowering the percentage of wages Hongkongers need to deduct from their salary to pay for their social security schemes.
That would help because some Hongkongers purchase medical insurance allowing them to visit private hospitals on the mainland, Ho said.