The international business community has been asking the government to relax quarantine restrictions for international arrivals, saying some are questioning if they can continue operating from the SAR when much of the world is opening up to travel.
But the government has instead tightened a number of infection-control measures, like scrapping most quarantine exemptions, in hopes of securing a full reopening of the border with the mainland.
Speaking after a radio programme on Saturday, the former minister said the Hong Kong government has to strike a balance and reopening the border takes priority, given the SAR’s close economic ties with the mainland.
“I understand that the demands of the foreign chambers can be at the opposite of what the Hong Kong government or mainland China’s policy is doing. Right now, our priority is indeed opening up our border with the mainland. I’m hopeful that when that starts, and with the pandemic situation under control, then we can slowly look at the opening up of the border to the international world,”he said.
Chan, who is now an adjunct professor at the business school of the University of Science and Technology, added that the tight border restrictions shouldn’t cause long-term issues for the city.
“I don’t think it harms Hong Kong’s financial centre status. I think the business is still going on. It might cause inconvenience to some people, but generally I don’t think that will be a long-term problem for Hong Kong,”he said.