Authorities announce 3-step process to enact plan for express rail terminal
The Hong Kong SAR Government on Tuesday announced details of the long-awaited co-location arrangement proposal for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), saying they would implement the arrangement in three steps.
Briefing media on proposal details, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said both Hong Kong and the mainland side are working on the first step, which aims to confirm contents of the cooperation agreement, including the establishment of port areas, delineation of port areas, governing law and jurisdiction and immigration control.
The agreement would later be submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) for approval and ratification before being implemented in Hong Kong through enactment of local legislation, Yuen added.
Describing the discussion with the mainland on step one as “very mature”, Yuen stressed that the co-location arrangement would not contravene the Basic Law, neither would it damage Hong Kong people’s interests.
Yuen said the control point — a four-story complex — would have a Hong Kong Port Area and Mainland Port Area. Both areas would be subject to their respective jurisdiction in accordance with respective laws, with personnel having no authority to exercise powers outside the stipulated areas.
The Mainland Port Area, leased by the special administrative region government to the mainland, covers about 105,000 square meters — a quarter of the control point’s construction floor area — and also covers train compartments of the rail link.
“Since the Mainland Port Area is legally regarded as outside the territorial boundary of the Hong Kong SAR, the stipulation of Article 8, 18 and Article 22 of the Basic Law do not apply, and therefore the co-location arrangement would not be in contravention of the Basic Law,” explained Yuen.
He also emphasized that there would be no “legal gray zone” within the control point as areas are clearly marked.
Yuen noted that the government would spare no effort in explaining and promoting the agreement to both the Hong Kong public and Legislative Council members before submitting the agreement proposal to the NPCSC.
He hinted that senior officials would talk with stakeholders to obtain public feedback on the agreement while the government would also organize discussions with lawmakers during the LegCo summer recess.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, who joined the press conference with Yuen, said agencies stationed in the Mainland Port Area would include immigration control, customs, inspection and quarantine, port and security control units. He added that he was told the mainland side would manage the area along the same lines as it uses for other ports.
The co-location arrangement will not contravene the Basic Law, neither will it damage Hong Kong people’s interests.” Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, secretary for justice
for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan, who also joined the media briefing, said the co-location arrangement would maximize economic and social benefits the XRL brings to Hong Kong, and boost the connectivity with the mainland and create more jobs.
Chan pointed out that there are similar co-location arrangements overseas, such as those between the United Kingdom and France, and the United States and Canada. And a similar co-location arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland has been operating smoothly at Shenzhen Bay Port since 2007, he added.
In closing the press conference, Yuen urged society to rationally discuss the co-location arrangement, as the high-speed train concerns not only transport and logistics, but also Hong Kong’s future development and competitiveness.
The XRL Hong Kong section is expected to start running in the third quarter of next year.
Janice Fung contributed to the story.