No offence
A strategic change

Not so scary anymore

Every since I first came to Hong Kong, my various jobs have required me to travel to China, almost invariably to Guangdong province. This is hardly unusual, and many Hong Kong people spend several days a week (sometimes the whole working week) across the border.

I have to admit that the first few times I made the journey I really hated it. Long queues at Lo Wu, getting past the aggressive beggars in the car park, followed by a hair-raising journey along the rather dodgy roads, marvelling at the "flexiblity" about driving on the left or the right, and the chaos of roundabouts and other road junctions. Eventually I became more sanguine and started to trust that anyone who drove in this mad place would have to pay full attention if they wished to survive, and hoped that was basically good news. Well, I live to tell the tale.

Perhaps I was unlucky in the first area of Guangdong I visited. Identikit factories as far as the eye could see, interspersed with nothingness and derelict sites, and those terrible roads. Or perhaps it was all like that a decade ago. Certainly the areas I have visited subsequently have been much better, though obviously industrial estates are hardly areas of outstanding natural beauty whatever country you visit.

Of course the roads have improved since then, as have the train services.  I am quite impressed with the trains going out from Shenzen, and it certainly seems safer than the highway.  Shenzen now has its own version of the MTR, and again it seems to be clean and efficient - and there's the entertainment value of watching people trying to figure out that the "coin" must be passed over the sensor when you enter the system but placed in the slot when you leave (which is not exactly obvious). 

Even the border crossing seems easier - the Hong Kong side now has the automatic gates (if you have a Smart ID card and are a Permanent Resident), and the queues on the China side seem to be processed reasonably quickly.  Perhaps one day all Hong Kong Permanent Residents will be given a 'home visit' permit rather than needing visas in their passports, and then it really will be trouble-free. 


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Believe it or not, permits are now given on the basis of RACE. You will get one as long as you (1)look like a Chinese; (2) have a Chinese-sounding name; (3) you speak Chinese; (4) you claim to be a 'compatriot'. Bear in mind the fact that when are given a permit, you are de facto given Chinese citizenship (on the basis of race, of course). I am not hopeful.

Jonathan Stanley

I have one of those "return home permits" and when I was asking mother's (Chinese) side of the family, my uncle noted he has seen Phillipinos sucessfully collecting their, so I shouldn't have any problem even with my thoroughly Anglo-Saxon surname.

Plus I don't really look that Chinese and if I'm not correctly picked out as being mixed, am generally assigned to being Japanese or Korean. I'm hardly a "compatriot" (less a secret wish that Hong Kong annexes mainland China before 1st July 2047 counts).

Granted I was born in Hong Kong, though giving the example above... I think for Permanent Residents... you could always try your luck, give yourself a Sinicized version of your Western name and see what happes. It's not as if they'll haul you up to the firing squad for trying!

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