After the United States added Taiwan to the list of countries whose residents can travel to the United States without a visitor visa, many citizens of Hong Kong were angered for not also being chosen for the visa-waiver program.
“It’s disappointing, because we’ve been asking for it for quite some time, and they still won’t give it to us,” Joseph Tung Yao-Chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, told the South China Morning Post. “We behave well, never cause trouble and spend handsomely, so why do they give it to Taiwan and not Hong Kong?”
Although the American Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for consideration in the program for more than five years, the decision was made to continue the United States’ commitment to maintaining relations with Taiwan, according to NBC News. United States officials did not meet with Hong Kong officials before making the controversial announcement.
Immigration experts like Richard Vuylsteke, the Chamber’s president, said they believe Hong Kong’s problem lies in mainland China.
“It’s not for lack of trying,” Vuylsteke told the Post. “All of the reasons Taiwan was approved … Hong Kong is also very strong in. My private speculation is they don’t know how to handle mainland Chinese with Hong Kong resident status. Of course, Taiwan is not one-on-one equivalent. It has a different kind of status.”
The U.S. consulate in Hong Kong continues to lobby for approval, but cannot estimate when they will be able to meet all of the requirements of the program.
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