It’s been 14 years since Hong Kong’s reunification with China. However, against all the evidences that prove Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory and that we are a big family, it is still too often complained that emotionally Hong Kong is a foreign land. One obvious fact is the official discrimination against mainlanders in terms of entering Hong Kong.
A writer named Su Gengsheng recently wrote about her disappointment and frustration about the problem in her blog post “A rejected entry permit”.
In July, me and my husband visited HK for the book fair. And recently I needed to go on a trip to Hong Kong again. Knowing that the second time to apply for HK entry permit, you can just fill a form online and mail the permit certificate to your registered police department for approval. So I mailed both of our certificates to respective departments since my husband’s from Chenzhou City Hunan Province, and me Changde City Hunan Province.
Weeks later, my husband got his permit approval, and I got a call telling me that my application was rejected because Changde people could only apply HK entry permit once a year.
The call hung up before I could ask why. So we called the immigration department of Changde City, a man explained to me on the phone that the one-time-only limitation was because Changde has the biggest percentage of Hunan people involving in illegal activities in HK, and if one really needs to go to HK, he must go to the registered police department in person presenting group traveling certificate or other proves to apply, but not necessarily succeed.
I questioned: “Is it reasonable to ban all Changde people from entering HK again just because the number of illegal activities involve with Changde people is high?”
“I don’t know, I am just doing my job.” He replied in Changde accent.
“For so long you work there, hasn’t any other Changde people filed complains?”
“I can’t do nothing about it, it exists so it is reasonable. You have to understand that there is region difference. For example, do our Hunan kids share the same enrolling standards with Beijing kids when they are applying for the same college? Big difference! And you know that in Hunan, only Changsha people can apply for individual HK & Macao entry permit, people from other cities have to go the group traveling way.”
Then I asked: “You are from Chengde too, right? Put yourself in my shoes, if you are the one who needs to go to HK, can you appreciate this kind of rationale?”
He still talked in our shared accent: “I don’t know you are really inquiring or interviewing, if you don’t have other questions, I think our conversation should be ended.”
We went on calling the immigration department of Hunan Province, and a woman explained that the provincial police department didn’t rule how many times a person can apply for the permit, it is up to the city level police departments.
I felt confused at this answer, and recalled what I wrote last time after applying for passport “in this country, there are countless people like this, working their ass off to fill your life with misery”. But this time it is different, it is not because of irresponsible people, but chaotic management system. Provincial don’t specify the rules, so city level police department puts forth whatever regulations and rules they see fit? In a big country like this, to deal with various authorities is just like facing a mountain of barbed linen – there is no way to start and you get hurt trying. Seeing my husband making inquiries everywhere, being pissed, disappointed by people at the other end of the phone, I feel sad.
After reading Su’s blog post, Netease certified columnist Nan Qiao commented the subject matter in his post “When will HK return to China”. He went on HK government site to check out the rules set by Hong Kong and concluded that Chinese are being discriminated from the fact that residents from 53 foreign countries such as the US, France, Japan, Britain can enter and stay in HK for up to 90 days visa-free; and residents from 11 other foreign countries get the visa-free stay for 30 days such as Costa Rica, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait etc; and some 17 other countries’ passports get 14 days visa-free stay. Of course China is not the only one that is keep out by visa, there are a bunch of other countries too, including Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya and so on.
“In HK and our central government’s eyes” wrote Nan Qiao, “are we Chinese family fellows the same as people from Afghanistan, Burundi, Cuba, North Korea, Iraq etc? People may think that these restrictions are reasonable considering mainland’s super large population. Then why Indians get to have 14 days visa-free stay in HK? Does India have a small population?”
Nan Qiao finished his commentary as follows: “Our Chinese folks, from diplomatic officers based in foreign countries, HK immigration department officials, to a small certificate handling personnel in Changde City, all seem to take pleasure in torturing our own country people. Yes, the whole world is vigilant about Chinese, but Chinese our own do best against ourselves, which leads to even more defense against China. ”