Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hongkongers get dubious offers to cut queue for mainland China travel permits

Hongkongers get dubious offers to cut queue for mainland China travel permits

Offers to ‘expedite’ applications at China Travel Service sound like a scam, tourism lawmaker Perry Yiu warns

Hong Kong lawmakers and tourism insiders have alerted residents to beware of advertisements on social media offering speedier processing of applications for travel permits to mainland China.

Offices of the China Travel Service (CTS), the Chinese government agency that issues travel documents for the mainland, have been struggling to cope with a deluge of applications since the border reopened fully in February.

Travel industry insiders said about 1.5 million Hongkongers were waiting for their new mainland travel permits.

The warnings about dubious services advertised over Facebook, Carousell and Taobao came as CTS stopped accepting walk-in applicants at its offices in the city and advised people to make an appointment on its website first.

However, appointment slots are available online four months in advance, and are fully booked up to August.

New slots released at midnight each day are snapped up within minutes, sometimes in under 60 seconds.

In social media communities dedicated to travel, people have been sharing tips for those who want a permit to visit the mainland and need to book a CTS appointment online.

Their advice: “Go online and start filling in your information at 11.45.pm. When the clock strikes 12, click ‘Submit’ as fast as you can.”

Hongkongers are scrambling to land travel permits to cross the border amid a backlog, with users asked to go online and be on standby to hit ‘Submit’ at midnight.

Word spread within these communities that earlier online bookings for CTS appointments could be bought from scalpers, or that there were agents who could, for a fee, secure earlier reservations.

Some listings seen by the Post claimed applicants could get help to bring forward their CTS appointments.

The Post reached out to one advertiser on the Hangzhou-based e-shopping platform Taobao.com, who promised to hasten the process for those who already had made an appointment.

Taobao.com is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.

For a fee of 1,500 yuan (US$217), the advertiser claimed to be able to “expedite” the booking using “internal indicators”, but refused to reveal details or provide a specific date for the earlier appointment.

“It sounds like a scam,” said tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung, who suggested these advertisers could be taking advantage of people who did not understand the system well.

“CTS allows people with emergency reasons such as the death of a loved one, medical treatment, or urgent business to expedite their applications through a ‘Green Channel’ mechanism,” he said.

“People who do not know this might think these sellers are giving them an exclusive service, but they might just be using this method, which everyone has access to.”

Although there have been no reports so far of people being scammed, he said the authorities should act against those making such claims.

CTS has five offices across Hong Kong. Applicants for mainland travel permits have to pay anywhere between HK$260 (US$33) and HK$870 depending on their request.

Fanny Yeung Shuk-fan, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said it was highly unlikely that those advertising speedier service could actually get new dates for applicants.

“I do not see how that would work, because the CTS asks for all sorts of information, including details of your family members before they let you make a reservation,” she said. “All that is attached to your booking ticket, so there is no way you can exchange it with someone else.”

Some Hongkongers have been trying other ways to beat the crush and get their travel papers sooner.

In a Facebook group called “Shenzhen Bay Area Eat, Drink and Play Sharing”, made up mainly of Hongkongers who like visiting nearby mainland cities, variations of the same question popped up several times a day:

“Has anyone had success getting their mainland travel permit?”

“How come I can’t click on any of the reservation dates?”

“What time do they release the slots each night?”

“Did anyone manage to make an appointment just now?”

One member related in detail her experience taking the advice of others in the group, by going across the border to neighbouring Shenzhen to apply for a new travel permit.

First, she made an appointment with the Shenzhen Municipality Public Security Bureau. It was done over WeChat and she got a slot two days later.

“You must have a mainland phone number to complete the booking,” she said.

On the day of her appointment, she went to the Lo Wu control point and obtained a one-time temporary permit into the mainland, paying a few hundred Hong Kong dollars and taking around three hours.

With that permit valid for three months, she crossed into Shenzhen and took public transport to the Longgang Exit-Entry Service Hall, arriving in time for her appointment.

Staff at the service hall guided her through the process, which included taking her photograph and photocopying her Hong Kong identity card and old mainland travel permit.

She was told her new 10-year permit would be ready in “nine to 14 days”. It cost her 350 yuan.

“The document must be collected on the mainland, but a relative or friend can be authorised to do that for you,” she said. “You can also arrange for it to be mailed, but it can only be sent to a mainland address.”


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.