Hong Kong’s immigration chief has said that there is “no conspiracy involved” in denying certain visitors entry into Hong Kong without explanation.

Director of Immigration Erick Tsang said on a radio programme on Sunday morning that tens of thousands of people were denied entry to Hong Kong every year. He added that his department has been acting in accordance with the law in Hong Kong.

Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai
Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai. File Photo: GovHK.

Tsang’s remarks follow a number of politically sensitive cases of denied entry to Hong Kong, and problems with visa applications. Namely, the de facto expulsion of Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet. Mallet had his Hong Kong visa renewal denied after he chaired a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan.

More recently, a Taiwanese pro-independence legislator and musician Freddy Lim had his visa application to perform in Hong Kong show denied in December last year.

“Every decision we made was in accordance with existing laws, procedures and policies. We cannot go against the law or do whatever we like,” Tsang said.

“Tens of thousands of people were denied entry to Hong Kong every year. Maybe they did not fit with immigration requirements, or their presence may not be beneficial to Hong Kong,” he said.

He gave examples of parallel traders and pregnant women from Mainland China who had not made hospital appointments as cases in which visa applications to Hong Kong might be rejected.

“We reject a lot of [cases]…” he said, adding; “do not think there is a conspiracy, that there are some special [treatment].”

Victor Mallet
Victor Mallet. File photo: Paul Yeung/Pool.

Asked if he was the person to make the final decision in these rejections, Tsang said that decisions had been made by frontline staff at control points, in accordance with the existing set of rules.

“If I am needed on all decisions, it will still not be possible, even if I sit at all 16 checkpoints across Hong Kong,” he said.

Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested in Vancouver in December. Canadian court documents revealed that she had three Hong Kong passports, each with different numbers. It was later revealed that the previous two passports had been invalidated.

freddy lim
Freddy Lim. Photo: Freddy Lim, via Facebook.

Tsang said that it was not uncommon for an individual to hold more than one Hong Kong passport, but that one can only hold one valid passport at any given time.

“[If] I give you a new passport, the old one will have a corner cut and be cancelled,” he said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.