Thursday, October 20, 2011
Border Crossings: The New Shenzhen Bay link
Now, I've been through just about every border point between Hong Kong and China. There are bus borders like the one we were on, pedestrian borders, ferry borders, and even train borders. However as we got on the new Shenzhen Bay bridge, separating Hong Kong and China, I was confused. As we got about half way over I realized something was different. The road signs had changed to Chinese only (rather than English and Chinese on the Hong Kong side) and we were obviously entering Shenzhen which is the border city with Hong Kong on the China side. We had entered China but we hadn't passed through customs "exiting" Hong Kong.
Normally on the bus borders (and a big hassle) is you approach the Hong Kong immigration point and then everyone gets out of the bus. You go through customs, get back on the bus, travel through the border, get off the bus again, and the then finally enter China passing through their immigration point.
As we came to the end of the new bridge across the bay I saw the Hong Kong flag at the front of a brand spanking new customs building... but we were obviously "in China". We got off the bus and entered the terminal. Using my "smart" ID card I exited Hong Kong through the e-channel avoiding the long immigration lines for non-residents. Then just a few meters ahead was the China immigration point.
Now I got it! They put the whole process under one roof to eliminate some of the time and hassle involved. Very cool and then I thought, "This could never happened when Britain controlled Hong Kong!" But now, with China exercising sovereignty over the territory having a Hong Kong check point on Chinese soil was not quite as big a deal...and a whole lot more convenient. (Or, was the the beginning of Hong Kong exercising control over China... mmmmmm ...interesting...)
Looking up the check point on Wikipedia they went on to note that Hong Kong phone coverage, both mobile and landline, are provided via Hong Kong (which explained why I could still call Tammy from the border) and Hong Kong's power company provided the electricity for the Hong Kong side of the building. (That must have been a fun design for the planners)
Despite the new convenience, I have to leave for Qingdao China later this morning and this time I'm just leaving from Hong Kong International Airport which is still the easiest way to cross the border by far.