LCQ17: Visa arrangements for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders visiting "Belt and Road" countries
At present, among the 66 countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (commonly known as "Belt and Road") (Belt and Road countries), 42 have granted visa-free access to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passport holders, or allowed them to apply for entry visas upon arrival (commonly known as "visa-on-arrival"). Some members from the industrial and commercial sectors planning to visit the Belt and Road countries for investment have relayed to me that they cannot obtain accurate information on the entry visa arrangements in respect of these countries. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the national official website for the Belt and Road initiatives shows the relevant information of all of the 66 Belt and Road countries, but the webpage of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on the Belt and Road countries does not provide information on four of such countries, namely The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and The Republic of South Africa, whether the authorities will ask HKTDC to make rectification, update the relevant information from time to time and indicate the sources of such information; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) of the types of entry visa arrangements, namely (i) visa-free access, (ii) visa-on-arrival, (iii) online application for electronic visas required and (iv) application for paper visas required, granted by the Belt and Road countries to SAR passport holders and the relevant details, including permitted duration of stay, eligibility criteria for application (if applicable) and points to note (set out such information in the table below according to the continents where these countries are situated); and
|Continent||Name of country||Type of entry visa arrangement||Permitted duration
Points to note
|Asia||The Republic of Tajikistan|
|Africa||The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia|
|Europe||The Republic of Belarus|
(3) among the Belt and Road countries which have not yet granted visa-free access to SAR passport holders, of those with which the Government has plans to conduct negotiation on this matter in the coming two years, and the expected outcome of such negotiations (set out in a table); if it has no such plans, of the reasons for that?
In consultation with the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, my consolidated reply to Hon Ng's question is as follows:
According to the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce of the Central People's Government, the Belt and Road covers, but is not limited to, the area of the ancient Silk Road. It is open to engagement with all countries, as well as international and regional organisations.
As more countries have shown interests in taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) will update its Belt and Road Portal from time to time with enriched relevant information. TDC has added the information about Korea, New Zealand and South Africa in the country profile on the website, and will include information about Ethiopia when available. TDC will continue to provide information of relevant countries with greatest potential on the website as needed.
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has all along been lobbying for visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders with a view to enhancing travel convenience for Hong Kong residents. Apart from raising the issue with relevant Embassies in our country and local Consulates from time to time, Economic and Trade Offices of the HKSAR Government have called on government officials and parliamentary members of the countries concerned to solicit their support for granting visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. When calling on foreign officials and attending relevant international conferences and seminars, officials of the HKSAR Government also take the opportunity to lobby for visa-free access to more countries for HKSAR passport holders. Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government attaches great importance to promoting the HKSAR passport. Whenever an opportunity arises, we would invite senior foreign officials and diplomatic personnel visiting Hong Kong to observe the production of HKSAR passports on the ground, and demonstrate to them the integrity of the production system and the passport's state-of-the-art anti-forgery features.
With the on-going efforts of the HKSAR Government over the years, the total number of countries and territories which have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders has increased from around 40 in the early days following the handover to 158 at present, including countries along the Belt and Road.
Currently, among the 68 Belt and Road countries shown on the Belt and Road Portal (www.yidaiyilu.gov.cn) of the State Information Center, 46 have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders. For the 22 that have not, the HKSAR Government will, in the light of the actual circumstances, continue to consider negotiating with them on mutual visa exemption arrangements and strive to persuade more countries to grant visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders, including those that have yet to grant reciprocal facilitation.
The HKSAR Government reviews its visa policy from time to time. Factors to be considered include immigration control and security, bilateral economic, social and cultural ties between Hong Kong and the countries concerned, track records of its nationals visiting Hong Kong and the circumstances of the individual country. In negotiating mutual visa exemption arrangements with the Belt and Road countries, the HKSAR Government will make holistic consideration with a view to providing more travel convenience to HKSAR passport holders and genuine visitors to Hong Kong on the one hand, and maintaining effective immigration control on the other.
Details of visa-free or visa arrangements of the 68 Belt and Road countries are at Annex.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:50
Issued at HKT 16:50