Indonesian and Indian nationals could soon face visa restrictions when travelling to Hong Kong, as the immigration authorities try to stem the flow of asylum seekers entering the territory.
Immigration director Eric Chan said yesterday that the idea is aimed at preventing abuse of Hong Kong’s asylum system and deterring economic migrants.
According to the SCMP, there are currently 10,922 refugee applications waiting to be processed in Hong Kong, 80 percent of which are from India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Of these countries, only Indians and Indonesians can currently enter without a permit.
Explaining that this may soon change, Chan said, “Maybe they [Indians and Indonesians] will need to submit an application to us. We will review their backgrounds and decide if they are allowed to travel to Hong Kong. This could be the direction.”
“Having a visa-free arrangement for now does not mean you will have it tomorrow,” he added.
The Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union slammed the idea as a form of discrimination based on nationality, while the Mohan Chugani, the president of the India Association of Hong Kong, branded it “mind-blowing”.
“I do not rule out an abuse of the asylum system. But there are a great number of genuine Indian tourists and business men working in Hong Kong,” he said. “There is a rising number of Indian middle class in the city. We are spending as much as the mainland Chinese tourists do.”