Chief Executive Carrie Lam has rejected a call to half the number of people allowed to settle in Hong Kong from mainland China each day.

Currently, 150 people from the mainland can move to the city every day under the one-way permit mechanism.

On Monday, Adam Kwok – a standing committee member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – said that the number should be slashed in half to 75.

Adam Kwok. Photo: GovHK.

Kwok, also an executive director at Sun Hung Kai Properties, said that some young Hongkongers believed that new immigrants from China took public resources from them. He suggested a three-year pilot programme to ease the number of immigrants and help resolve the conflict between the mainland and Hong Kong, according to Ming Pao.

But Lam said the one-way permit policy was a humane policy intended for family reunions: “We as a society have to respect family reunions, it is – in a way – a human right and freedom,” she said ahead of the Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting.

Carrie Lam. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

She said mainland authorities have the power to vet people who apply for the one-way permit, and – over the past two years – not all of the allocated slots had been used up: “We do not wish for too many people to come to Hong Kong to live under the one-way permit system,” she said.

She added that couples who were separated by the border have to wait for four years for their partner to join them in Hong Kong. She added that one-third of marriages in Hong Kong were cross-border marriages.

“It proves that we still need an immigration policy for family reunions. If we change the policy now, it will send a message that we blame a certain problem or phenomenon in society on the one-way permit family reunion policy. Thus it is not a proposal that we are considering,” she said.

Lam said the government will put forward more policies on healthcare and welfare to fulfil the needs of local residents.

Kris Cheng

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.