Sun, Sep 29, 2019 - Page 1 News List

HONG KONG: MAC probing reports of searches at HK airport

BARRED ENTRY:Hong Kong customs officials are to search all luggage belonging to Taiwanese travelers, looking for items such as masks, helmets and goggles

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The title and logo of the Mainland Affairs Council are displayed on a wall at its Taipei headquarters in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has asked the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong to verify media reports that Taiwanese entering Hong Kong are to be searched, the council said yesterday.

Hong Kong’s Chinese-language Ming Pao yesterday said that the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has ordered that the luggage of all people arriving in the territory from Taiwan be searched.

People found carrying items that could be used in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong would be investigated and barred entry, the newspaper reported.

Previously, customs officials only conducted random searches of arriving passengers, but under the new policy, luggage containing items such as masks and helmets would be flagged and those who claim them would be held for questioning, it added.

A Taiwanese man detained in Hong Kong last week had allegedly been transporting leaflets with protest messages, pepper spray and masks, the newspaper said, adding that he was under investigation by counterterrorism officials.

Customs officers at Hong Kong International Airport earlier this month found goggles, gas masks and surgical masks in the luggage of three Taiwanese men arriving in the territory, it said.

The council yesterday said in a statement that it has instructed the office to verify whether there is a comprehensive list of specific items that visitors to the territory are prohibited from carrying in their luggage.

The office would also ask the Hong Kong government to improve notices to the public about changes in policy regarding prohibited items, it said.

Taiwanese who encounter emergency situations and need assistance while in Hong Kong or Macau can call the office at 852-6143-9012 or 853-6687-2557 respectively, the council said.

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