Rule

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil on Tues­day morn­ing ap­proved the pro­posed ar­range­ments for cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion clear­ance oper­a­tions by both Hong Kong and main­land law-en­force­ment de­part­ments in­side the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus of the GuangzhouShen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link (XRL), known in short as the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments. Sec­re­tary for Jus­tice Rim­sky Yuen Kwok-ke­ung told re­porters in a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day af­ter­noon that main­land cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties will clear pas­sen­gers ac­cord­ing to main­land law in a leased area in­side the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus be­fore board­ing high-speed trains for main­land des­ti­na­tions. The co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments will be ready for im­ple­men­ta­tion af­ter nec­es­sary lo­cal leg­is­la­tion.

The ar­range­ments are the re­sults of long and care­ful dis­cus­sions be­tween rel­e­vant de­part­ments of the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment and main­land au­thor­i­ties with full con­sid­er­a­tion on all mat­ters of com­mon con­cern, es­pe­cially those re­lated to pub­lic in­ter­est and rule of law. As Yuen noted at the press con­fer­ence, there will be no trans­fer of land own­er­ship as a re­sult of co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments and Hong Kong laws are ap­pli­ca­ble in the leased area un­der cer­tain con­di­tions.

Co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments are a key fea­ture in the XRL project. Without it pas­sen­gers headed for main­land des­ti­na­tions will have to go through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion clear­ance in Hong Kong be­fore board­ing and again when they ar­rive at des­ti­na­tions on the main­land. That will de­feat the orig­i­nal pur­pose of con­struct­ing the XRL. The op­po­si­tion par­ties have been mak­ing var­i­ous un­founded ac­cu­sa­tions against the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments all along, even though they did not know the de­tails. Their only goal is to de­rail the XRL project by any means they can find re­gard­less of the tremen­dous harm it will cause pub­lic in­ter­est.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told re­porters be­fore Tues­day’s ExCo meet­ing that ar­range­ments will fully com­ply with the Ba­sic Law and the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple. She also ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ments might com­pro­mise the rule of law and “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple in or­der to achieve the con­ve­nience of high-speed rail. Ac­cord­ing to Yuen’s ex­pla­na­tion the whole process sounds very sim­i­lar to the Shen­zhen Bay Port, which was set up in 2007 and has been ef­fec­tive for 10 years with im­pres­sive re­sults.

If Hong Kong law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties can do their jobs ac­cord­ing to Hong Kong law in a leased space in Shen­zhen without con­tra­dict­ing the Ba­sic Law or “one coun­try, two sys­tems”, so can main­land au­thor­i­ties ac­cord­ing to main­land law in a sim­i­lar leased area in the SAR. As long as all par­ties con­cerned faith­fully ob­serve their agree­ment as well as rel­e­vant laws on op­er­at­ing in­side the port area noth­ing will be com­pro­mised in or­der to achieve the orig­i­nal pur­pose of the XRL — to en­hance Hong Kong’s com­pet­i­tive­ness and pro­mote eco­nomic devel­op­ment. In the past 20 years the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties have done ev­ery­thing to en­sure the com­plete and pre­cise im­ple­men­ta­tion of the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple. It sim­ply makes no sense what­so­ever to sug­gest the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties will au­tho­rize any­thing in­con­sis­tent with ex­ist­ing law and the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple.

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