Hong Kong wants to ease COVID-19 rules like mandatory hotel quarantine that have made travel difficult for nearly three years, Chief Executive John Lee (李家超) said yesterday, as mainland Chinese officials signaled their approval.
The number of infections in Hong Kong has fallen to about 6,000 a day, creating room to reconsider the measures that have crimped the territory’s competitiveness, Lee told reporters at a weekly briefing.
Hotel quarantine will be replaced with seven days of home health monitoring, the South China Morning Post reported, though it said the change would not be announced until all the details have been determined.
The plans appear to have been blessed by leaders on the mainland, despite their adherence to a “zero COVID-19” approach.
China supports Hong Kong’s efforts to have close, extensive contact with the rest of the world and sees no problem with adjusting its rules, Huang Liuquan (黃柳權), deputy director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told a separate briefing in Beijing.
Hong Kong’s residents have been anticipating a reduction in the travel curbs, including hotel quarantine requirements and pre-flight polymerase chain reaction testing, as a series of high-profile international events are scheduled to begin late next month. Visitors that Hong Kong’s leaders want to attract have said they would not come if the restrictions were too harsh.
“We know for the epidemic control, there’s impact on connectivity to the world,” Lee said. “We want to have the maximum connectivity to the world and to reduce inconvenience related to quarantine rules. We are orderly working towards that direction.”
Lee has taken a number of steps to make travel less of a high-stakes gamble since being sworn into office on July 1. He ended some flight bans that could unpredictably derail travel, slashed hotel quarantine stays, announced a plan to cease ordering people into government-run isolation facilities and stopped taking the temperatures of transit passengers as they passed through the territory’s airport.
The shift has come in contrast to the doubling down by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the zero-tolerance approach in China, and Lee is trying to steer the territory through reopening to the rest of the world without becoming a vector for spreading infection to the mainland.
AT WASHINGTON SUMMIT: The agreement between the US and 14 Pacific nations came half a year after the Solomon Islands struck a security deal with China The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse. The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation. Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years
‘DEVOTED GUARDIANS’: A Chinese foreign affairs official said his nation’s diplomats would not ‘sit and do nothing while our country’s interests are being harmed’ China yesterday signaled no letup in its combative approach to foreign policy in a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as leader despite criticism from many Western diplomats that the so-called “wolf warrior” stance has been counterproductive. As relations with the West have soured over issues from trade and human rights to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese diplomats have often been confrontational on the public stage, including on social media, a stridency that some critics see as intended for a domestic audience that nonetheless hurts its foreign ties. “We Chinese will not capitulate. We will not sit and do nothing while
LANDING INCIDENT: A plane with 63 passengers was shot at by ‘terrorists’ from an ethnic minority militia, state news reported, although militants denied responsibility Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land on Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. Myanmar state television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It cited junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun as saying the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National
FAMILY OUTING: The president, his wife and two sons went to Singapore on a military plane to watch an F1 race as the Philippines grapples with the aftermath of a typhoon A trip by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to Singapore over the weekend to watch Formula One races has come under attack from critics who described it as “utterly callous” while thousands of Filipinos remain displaced due to a recent typhoon. Marcos Jr confirmed his trip to Singapore for the Grand Prix event in a brief statement and pictures he posted on Facebook on Monday night after a flurry of online criticism. “They say that playing golf is the best way to drum up business, but I say it’s Formula 1,” Marcos Jr said. “What a productive weekend.” He said without elaborating that