OFFICIALS from China’s immigration bureau said 1.35 million people had applied for Hong Kong and Macau passports and visas since January 8. This coincided with the announcement of the opening of China’s borders after three years.

“The number of applications for entry and exit documents will continue to increase in the near future,” said Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Border Control and Management under the National Immigration Administration.

“The National Immigration Administration will dynamically adjust management service measures to provide the necessary convenience for applicants to travel smoothly,” he said at a National Health Commission press conference, reported by Malay Mail, Friday, (01/13), 2023.

Mainland China has finally opened its borders and lifted quarantine requirements for everyone arriving from Hong Kong. This repeal is the final part of the “Zero-COVID” policy which had made China completely closed off from the outside world.

China withdrew its “Zero-COVID” policy last month, after a wave of demonstrations denouncing various COVID-19 restrictions. The revocation of the policy was welcomed, even though it triggered a spike in daily cases of COVID-19, especially among the elderly.

The opening of the border between China and Hong Kong came after the start of “chun yun,” the term for the Chinese New Year homecoming period last Saturday. This Chinese New Year Homecoming is the first to be carried out in China without travel restrictions since the 2020 pandemic era.

China’s Ministry of Transport estimates that more than 2 billion people will go on Chinese New Year homecoming in the next 40 days. Some residents are enthusiastic about welcoming the Chinese New Year homecoming season this year, although there are also a number of people who choose not to return to their hometowns. [sources/photo special]