Even from Hong Kong, business travel to China remains an obstacle course

Even from Hong Kong, business travel to China remains an obstacle course

“Don’t forget to bring bedding, pillows, towels, a kettle (very important), necessities (chocolate, tea, snacks, etc.) and fresh food for the first few days,” he was advised by Paul H., a Western businessman who did not want to be identified, set up in Hong Kong for twenty years. Very familiar with traveling to China, mostly to the best international hotels in the main big cities, he had not been back there for almost three years, and was advised by a friend who was returning from there.

Because since then “China has reopened” those who go there are enthusiastic about the idea that they can “finally seeing their teams again”, come back a little dazed from the obstacle courses that the journey to mainland China has become. The era before Covid-19 “the flea jumps”, where meetings, factory visits and dinners with customers in several cities were connected from Hong Kong in forty-eight hours, is a distant memory. Just like Hong Kong-Shanghai return trips, which can be done during the day, or visits to Shenzhen, which has a high-speed train connecting Hong Kong in nineteen minutes from 2018.

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Nineteen minutes by train is fast, except that we now have to add to this transport several weeks of waiting for a lottery ticket that grants the right to cross the border and ten days of quarantine for non-resident visitors… Alec L., who works for a large electronics company, registered on the online application provided to draw a passage in Shenzhen, a border city with Hong Kong. He finally had his lucky day at the end of October. But when he arrived at the border, he was missing a written confirmation of one of his anti-Covid tests.

“We don’t know where we’re going”

Back to the beginning. “I try my luck every day. My suitcase has been ready for two months now, because the results fall every day at 8 pm, and the authorization can be given for the next day”, Alec says. Therefore, going to China now requires patience, persistence and even endurance. If air access doesn’t require a lottery, tickets are very rare. And, for Beijing, in addition to providing the “usual” tests, it was also necessary until the announcement of concessions on Friday, 11.11. self-test within seven hours of takeoff. This meant, for morning flights, an overnight stay at the airport. Now only one pre-trip test is required.

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