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.

permit machine guangdong
Authorities in Guangdong are promoting new self-service machines that will issue permits for Hong Kong and Macau. Photo: 澳亚卫视, 新闻共同睇官微 and 罗定大学生联谊会 via Weibo.

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.

Facebook users commenting on the Apple Daily article
Facebook users commenting on the Apple Daily article. /Facebook

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.”

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.