Chief Executive of Hong Kong, John Lee has described the city as a “pivotal gateway” between China and the rest of the world, as pressure to reopen borders heightens.

"The central government fully supports Hong Kong in carrying out more extensive exchanges and close cooperation with the rest of the world," Lee said during the seventh Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on Wednesday. 

Hong Kong’s economy is on course to contract for the third time in four years as growth is impacted by pandemic policies, Bloomberg reports. 

Fuelling the pressure for Hong Kong, rival hub Singapore has eased border restrictions, lifted compulsory mask-wearing in most places and recently unveiled new visa plans in a bid to attract overseas talent. 

The Chief Executive is now scheduled to hold talks with key city and provincial officials: “We will discuss the cross-border arrangement for residents in Hong Kong and mainland China and I hope that, after thorough discussion, a consensus can be reached,” he said. 

Lee has pledged to reopen travel with mainland China and globally, but up to now there have only been limited results. Earlier in August, Hong Kong reduced mandatory quarantine for international arrivals to three days, rather than a week.  

Businesses have been pressing for the requirement to be scrapped completely, but no timeframe has as yet been suggested.  

In addition, local residents and companies are urging for the mainland border to fully reopen, the Bloomberg report goes on to say. Thousands of Hong Kong residents need to regularly travel to the mainland for work, study and family reasons, added the Chief Executive. 

A total of 8,800 Covid cases were reported in Hong Kong on Tuesday and 13 fatalities, with authorities cautioning of stricter social distancing measures if cases continue to increase.

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