HKSAR – In a significant development, the authorities in Hong Kong have introduced a national security risk assessment for all visa applications.
The announcement was made by the Director of Immigration, Benson Kwok on Thursday, aimed at preventing threatening elements from entering the city.
Kwok clarified that these measures are not a blanket ban but are in alignment with existing laws and immigration policies, with no specific targeting of professions such as foreign journalists and academics.
The decision to introduce this national security assessment follows recent incidents involving denied visas and entry refusals, including notable cases like academic Rowena He Xiaoqing and Japanese journalist Yoshiaki Ogawa. Despite these changes, the proportion of visitors refused entry last year remained lower than the pre-pandemic era.
According to immigration officials, the new measure will include evaluating the background and past statements of visa applicants to assess any potential risk to national security. This move underscores Hong Kong’s dedication to balancing its global role while safeguarding its sovereignty amidst evolving geopolitical dynamics.
Furthermore, to attract highly skilled individuals, the Immigration Department has also launched the Top Talent Pass Scheme, specifically targeting affluent earners and graduates from prestigious universities. However, the effectiveness of this initiative in attracting tourists will hinge on the outcome of the new risk assessment.
It is noteworthy that Hong Kong’s passport strength remains robust, ranking 19th on the Henley Passport Index 2024. With visa-free access to 171 destinations, Hong Kong’s citizens enjoy significant global mobility, further emphasizing the nation’s stature on the international stage.
Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis in southeastern China, boasts a population of over 7 million people. Renowned for its stunning skyline, Victoria Harbour, and vibrant neighborhoods like Central and Mong Kok, it serves as a global financial hub. With a robust economy driven by finance, trade, and tourism, Hong Kong stands as a beacon of prosperity and opportunity in Asia.