Q5 Revitalizing the tourism industry
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): Deputy President, in view of the relapse, I agree with what the Secretary explains in the main reply, and that is, the Administration adopts the “suppress and lift” strategy in controlling the epidemic. However, with regards to relaxing the policy concerning the quarantine of arrivals, the Secretary has just mentioned that a pilot scheme was established to facilitate people who needed to travel between Guangdong and Hong Kong or between Hong Kong and Macao. He has also mentioned that negotiation with Thailand was being carried out. However, what is the Government’s yardstick? Is it based on the distance from Hong Kong or stability of the epidemic situation in the places concerned? Actually we do not know that too well. Or both factors are considered? Some people from my constituency tell me that they need to travel from Hong Kong to Mainland cities such as Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and so on, and the distance and stability of the epidemic situation of these places should have met the two conditions. May I ask the Secretary when the Government will relax its inbound quarantine policy on these neighbouring cities with a stable epidemic situation?
SECRETARY FOR COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (in Cantonese): As I have explained just now, the discussion with Mainland and Macao is led by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. My answer to Mr CHAN’s supplementary question is that our consideration has nothing to do with the distance of these places. Our consideration mainly focuses on the two points that I have mentioned earlier, because anti-epidemic measures are as important as economic recovery. For that reason, our first consideration is whether or not the epidemic outbreak of those places is stable―if it is under control and if it is relatively stable. We will weigh the situation through figures we have obtained as well as information gathered by our health authorities from their counterparts or international organizations. Therefore, it is apparent that we will select places which can meet the above criteria for discussion.
To make it simple, the situations of Macao and Mainland are getting stable, and that is also the reason why we have started the work in his regard for one or two months. As to overseas places, we will be very prudent in selecting our partner. Even when we have identified a place for negotiations, we will not finalize everything through one discussion session only. Adjustments will possibly be made in the course of discussion. Therefore, first, we will carry out the work according to the severity of the epidemic situation. Second, we will certainly consider places which have closer economic and trade ties with us. But the latter should not override the former, which I have mentioned just now.
As far as the discussions are concerned, I believe any bilateral discussion can only be implemented after both parties have given their consent. As I said just now, when we are examining the situation of the other party, the other party may also weigh our situation. The virus does not need any passport to reach the farthest destination that it can reach, regardless of the distance between the two places. For that reason, it really depends on the epidemic situation. The “suppress and lift” strategy in controlling the epidemic that we adopt is based on the fact that we should address the outbreak situation by taking into account the economic recovery of society.