Co-lo­ca­tion pro­posal soon to be re­vealed

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­

Hong Kong’s Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, the core pol­i­cy­mak­ing or­gan of the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion govern­ment, con­ducted a two-hour dis­cus­sion on Mon­day over the long-awaited co-lo­ca­tion pro­posal for cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion con­trol at Hong Kong’s high-speed rail ter­mi­nus in West Kowloon, ExCo mem­ber Ip Kwok-him said.

The fi­nal deal will be un­veiled to the public “very soon”, he said.

No more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able un­der a prin­ci­ple of con­fi­den­tial­ity but the pro­posal is re­port­edly to be re­leased as soon as to­day (Tues­day) and fol­lows the “prece­dent” of co-lo­ca­tion at the Shen­zhen Bay Port.

The plan will have main­land im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials work­ing at the ter­mi­nus, which is ex­pected to en­hance the ef­fi­ciency of the HK$84 bil­lion cross-bound­ary rail link.

The Shen­zhen Bay Con­trol Point model, where co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments have been im­ple­mented since 2007, is re­port­edly the most prob­a­ble pro­posal.

Fol­low­ing a Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC) de­ci­sion in 2006, the Hong Kong govern­ment now rents an area at the con­trol point — for an ini­tial pe­riod un­til June 30, 2047 — and places it within Hong Kong’s juris­dic­tion to en­force bor­der clear­ance. As such, Hong Kong laws ap­ply in the spe­cific area. Rent is 6.23 mil­lion yuan, or HK$7.18 mil­lion a year.

The ar­range­ment al­lows pas­sen­ger and ve­hi­cle de­par­ture and ar­rival clear­ance in close prox­im­ity.

The rented area and sur­face of the con­nect­ing bridge are un­der Hong Kong ju­ris- dic­tion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial doc­u­ments. Hong Kong laws ap­ply within the area. Sur­round­ing ar­eas are all un­der main­land juris­dic­tion.

So far there have been no re­ports of ma­jor in­ci­dents in im­ple­ment­ing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment at Shen­zhen Bay.

Af­ter an­nounc­ing the rail­way ter­mi­nus plan the govern­ment will so­licit public opin­ion and sub­mit it to the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil for ap­proval, in the form of a bill.

The pre­sen­ta­tion to LegCo is ex­pected in Oc­to­ber af­ter the leg­is­la­ture re­sumes sit­ting af­ter its sum­mer re­cess. How­ever, the govern­ment has to work quickly as the rail­way is sched­uled to start op­er­at­ing by the third quar­ter of next year.

Ear­lier, the city’s trans­port chief Frank Chan Fan said the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment was the “only plan” for bound­ary con­trol at the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus.

“There is no plan B,” he said. “Only by im­ple­ment­ing joint bound­ary con­trols can the rail link max­i­mize its power.”

He re­vealed that the plan com­plied with the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and safe­guarded the city’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy.

The plan has been a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue in the city as the Ar­ti­cle 22 of the Ba­sic Law stip­u­lates that no depart­ment or au­thor­i­ties in the main­land may in­ter­fere in the af­fairs which the SAR ad­min­is­ters on its own in ac­cor­dance with this Law.

Op­po­nents ar­gue that this ar­ti­cle pro­hibits any main­land law en­force­ment of­fi­cers car­ry­ing out du­ties in Hong Kong.

How­ever, a num­ber of le­gal pro­fes­sion­als said that if the of­fi­cers work in a re­stricted area at the ter­mi­nus, they should not be deemed as “in­ter­fer­ing Hong Kong af­fairs”.

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