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LCQ3: Implementing immigration arrangement of joint boundary control system
     Following is a question by the Hon Dominic Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Tang Ping-keung, in the Legislative Council today (May 17):
     It is learnt that the Guangdong Provincial Government is committed to implementing the immigration arrangement of "joint boundary control system" (i.e. the "collaborative inspection and joint clearance" mode) to promote exchanges among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. On the other hand, the immigration arrangement of either the "separate-location arrangement" or "co-location arrangement" is still adopted for various boundary control points (BCPs) in Hong Kong at present. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has already communicated with the Guangdong Provincial Government on adopting the immigration arrangement of joint boundary control system at BCPs in Hong Kong;
(2) whether it has already planned to implement the immigration arrangement of joint boundary control system at existing and future BCPs in Hong Kong, and assessed the advantages and challenges of introducing such an immigration arrangement; and
(3) whether it has already planned to implement the immigration arrangement of the co-location arrangement or even the joint boundary control system at the Hong Kong International Airport, and align with the airports on the Mainland to introduce additional routes, so as to promote exchanges between Hong Kong and the Mainland; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     With the full resumption of normal travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the number of visitors and traffic flow between the two places increase and the demand for boundary control points (BCPs) service also increase at the same time. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will continue to strive to enhance the clearance capacity at BCPs, and adopt innovative technologies to provide more convenient, efficient and hygienic immigration services for visitors. For example, the Immigration Department (ImmD) launched the contactless self-service immigration clearance service starting from December last year to allow enrolled Hong Kong residents to undergo self-service immigration clearance using an encrypted QR code generated by their smartphones and facial recognition technology without the need to present their identity cards or touch the fingerprint scanners, thereby reducing the time required for the whole immigration clearance process to last for around seven seconds.
     In response to the Member's first and second questions, our consolidated reply is as follows:
(1) and (2) "Collaborative inspection and joint clearance" is a new clearance mode and its concept is similar to the "joint boundary control system" proposed by the community. Under such clearance mode, automatic channels/counters for both outbound and inbound visitors will be set up side by side at the boundary inside a port, such that visitors only need to queue up and have their documents inspected once to pass through the immigration facilities of both sides and complete the respective immigration procedures.
     At present, the governments of Shenzhen and Hong Kong are pressing ahead with the redevelopment of the Huanggang Port in full steam. To enhance the handling capacity of the port, the governments of both sides have agreed to adopt the "co-location arrangement" at the new Huanggang Port and are actively exploring the implementation of the user-friendly clearance mode "collaborative inspection and joint clearance", which will greatly improve the entire clearance experience and efficiency by avoiding visitors’ inconvenience of having to travel with their luggage between the two port buildings for immigration clearance. Besides, the HKSAR Government will explore using the same approach of adopting "co-location arrangement" and "collaborative inspection and joint clearance" mode in planning the redevelopment of the Sha Tau Kok Port and development of new BCPs in future to facilitate passenger clearance and enhance clearance efficiency.
     The ImmD has extensive experience in handling passenger clearance, and is actively using innovative technology to enhance the efficiency and high quality immigration clearance services. The HKSAR Government is fully confident on it. To ensure that the public is well informed and be familiarised with the efficiency brought by the new clearance mode, the HKSAR Government will explain clearly the new service before its launch such that the public will fully understand the procedures, as well as the benefits and better experience brought by the new mode.
(3) As regards the Member’s third question, while there is already a precedent of implementing "co-location arrangement" at a land boundary crossing between HKSAR and the Mainland and the governments of Hong Kong and Shenzhen are actively exploring the implementation of the user-friendly clearance mode of "collaborative inspection and joint clearance" at the new Huanggang Port, adopting such arrangements in Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will involve different legal and implementation issues and overall benefits, taking into account its mode of passenger transport and its status as an international aviation hub connecting different destinations. As such, this has to be carefully considered. 
     At the same time, we have all along been working with the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) in dedicating our resources to rolling out various value-added services. For example, we strive to enhance intermodal transport connection between HKIA and other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). Apart from setting up city terminals in strategic locations in the GBA to provide transport links to Hong Kong and passenger check-in service, the AAHK also provides sea-air intermodal passenger transfer service, which allows passengers going to and from ten ports in the GBA using SkyPier to transfer at HKIA without the need to go through Hong Kong's immigration procedures, making their travel fast and easy. Such service will be extended to the SkyPier Terminal which is under development, thereby allowing passengers from Macao and Guangdong travelling to HKIA through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) to enjoy the aforesaid seamless transfer service as well.
     Besides, the AAHK is working with Zhuhai Airport in introducing "Fly-Via-Zhuhai-HK" passenger transfer service, which will allow Mainland passengers to reach worldwide destinations through HKIA by flying to Zhuhai Airport first and then transfer to HKIA through HZMB. International passengers will also be able to travel to Mainland cities through the reverse process. At the same time, the AAHK is also actively applying innovation and technologies such as Flight Token to speed up airport processes and shorten the clearance time for passengers.
     The HKSAR Government and the AAHK will continue to explore possible measures to enhance clearance efficiency and connectivity with the Mainland, and will expand the "Fly-Via-Zhuhai-HK" passenger transfer service to include Mainland cities to which Hong Kong does not have direct flights, thereby integrating the international aviation network of HKIA with the domestic aviation network of Zhuhai Airport for strong synergy, with a view to enhancing Hong Kong's status as an international aviation hub. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:25
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