Guangdong residents can now acquire Hong Kong or Macau visit permits through new self-service machines that can process applications in five to seven minutes.
The move came despite Shenzhen imposing a one-visit-per-week policy for its residents, announced in April.
According to Apple Daily, officials in Guangdong Province were promoting a new device dubbed the Exit and Entry Administration Automatic Application Machine, which includes an electronic application form, a fingerprint scanner and a card slot for credit or debit card payments.
The paper also reported that authorities in Guangdong rolled out the new machines as part of a pilot scheme, and that there are up to 60 of these machines in total dotted across the province.
The podiums are open 24 hours a day. MASTV reported that in some cases they can process applications within two to three minutes.
The electronic booths received a mixed response from mainland internet users. Some welcomed the the new machines as it could cut waiting times, while others raised doubts on their functionality.
One user gave the machines “three thumbs up,” adding that they were no longer worried about long queues for permits. Another said it would encourage residents to travel more.
Most Hongkongers, however, were less impressed. The Apple Daily article, shared on Facebook, received a number of comments using the word “locust”—a popular derogatory slang term referring to mainlanders who shop in Hong Kong.
Another commented that it takes less time to clear immigration “than passing through with an Octopus card,” rendering the border “non-existent.”
One Facebook user wrote: “[This is] the end of Hong Kong.”