Hong Kong getting tougher on foreigners in run-up to Olympics

May 7th, 2008 - 12:53 pm ICT by admin  

Hong Kong, May 7 (DPA) Hong Kong has said it would not welcome anyone who planned to disrupt proceedings or “damage the solemnity of the Olympic Games”, an official document revealed Wednesday. The admission, revealed in a paper to the Legislative Council security panel, comes after at least eight foreigners have been denied entry into the former British colony over the past two weeks.

They included Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, famous for his work “The Pillar of Shame”, created in 1997 to mark the eighth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, plus two Britons, two Canadians and one Swede.

It also follows tough new visa restrictions imposed on Westerners by Beijing last month.

The document, discussed Tuesday afternoon, said Hong Kong, as a co-host of the Beijing Games in August, has an obligation to ensure activities proceed in a “safe, peaceful and smooth manner”.

Deputy Secretary for Security Grace Lui also said the government has a “watch list” of people whose entry into Hong Kong, which is the venue for the Olympic equestrian events, might not be “conducive to the public good”.

However, she also stressed that not everyone on the list would be automatically banned.

The tough stance has come under fire from democratic lawmakers who said it would damage Hong Kong’s international reputation.

Legislator Cheung Man-kwong was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying that the government’s behaviour in refusing entry to some foreigners had damaged the “one country, two systems” policy, which Hong Kong and China adopted when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.

China suddenly stopped issuing multiple-entry visas to people travelling from Hong Kong, giving out only single- and double-entry visas instead from the beginning of April.

Applicants have been asked to provide proof of hotel bookings and return tickets before visas are issued, and China has stopped issuing visas on the border as it did in some cases previously.

The sudden change of policy has caused consternation among business people based in Hong Kong who for years have made weekly trips to China using multiple-entry visas.

Before the ban, foreigners could get multiple-entry visas for up to three years to visit mainland China from Hong Kong.

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