The new high-speed railway line linking Kowloon to Guangzhou is set to be inaugurated in September. Mainland China has requested and obtained the right to control part of the terminus and train platforms. The mainland will be in charge of immigration, customs, health inspection, border control and security. Track maintenance will remain in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After months of heated debate, the Hong Kong Legislative Council approved a bill that effectively allows the security services of mainland China to operate in the Autonomous Region.
The former British colony, handed over to the People’s Republic in 1997, should in theory be off limits to mainland interference until 2047.
The controversial project concerns a high-speed railway line that will connect the West Kowloon Terminus to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong.
The construction of the line – a project worth around US $ 11 billion – will reduce travel time from approximately two hours to less than 50 minutes.
The security issue emerged when mainland authorities said they wanted to deploy their own security details in the terminus, i.e. in Hong Kong itself.
The plan adopted by the Legislative Council includes "co-location, which will enable China to share jurisdiction in Hong Kong itself. However, for the city’s Democrats, it actually means giving Beijing "almost full" jurisdiction.
Next September, when the railway line is set to begin operations, Chinese officers will have full control over about one quarter of the terminus as well as station platforms.
Mainland officers from immigration, customs, health inspection, and railway police will be stationed in the designated area and apply mainland laws. Train compartments will also be subject to Chinese laws.
Tracks will stay however under local jurisdiction to facilitate maintenance.
The so-called co-location bill was passed by 40 to 20 votes last night. Majority lawmakers, who are all pro-Beijing, justified the move on national security grounds.
Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said the vote had opened a Pandora’s box that will further the imposition of unconstitutional arrangements on Hong Kong.