Co-lo­ca­tion ‘re­flects high de­gree of au­ton­omy’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WILLA WU and WANG YUKE in Hong Kong Con­tact the writ­ers at willa@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link (XRL) em­bod­ies the high de­gree of au­ton­omy Hong Kong en­joys, as it is the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish a joint cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion check­point, Hong Kong SAR Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee mem­ber Al­bert Chen Hung-yee said on Mon­day.

Chen, who is a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong, added that the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment also shows Hong Kong has been given more power. This is be­cause the city is granted au­thor­ity to arrange a one-stop im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms clear­ance ser­vice on its soil, which it didn’t en­joy be­fore.

Such autho­riza­tion is not a con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion which the gov­ern­ment has to un­der­take. Hong Kong still en­joys the right to de­cide whether or not to use the au­thor­ity, ex­plained Chen. He added that this shows the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s re­spect for Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy.

The SAR gov­ern­ment ear­lier an­nounced a three-step pro­ce­dure to im­ple­ment co-lo­ca­tion at the XRL’s West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus, which in­cludes seek­ing ap­proval and rat­i­fi­ca­tion from the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, be­fore lo­cal leg­is­la­tion.

Ar­ti­cle 20 of the Ba­sic Law stip­u­lates that the Hong Kong SAR “may en­joy other pow­ers granted to it by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress or the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment”.

De­scrib­ing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment as “law-based, in­no­va­tive and flex­i­ble”, Chen dis­missed the mis­con­cep­tion that the ar­range­ment would cause main­land laws to be en­forced in other parts of Hong Kong.

Ac­cord­ing to the plan, one­fourth of the West Kowloon Ter­mi­nus will be des­ig­nated as the Main­land Port Area, where main­land laws will be ap­plied.

Chen re­ferred to the Shen­zhen Bay Con­trol Point model, where co-lo­ca­tion has been im­ple­mented since 2007. The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment rents part of the check­point lo­cated in Shekou, Shen­zhen and places it within Hong Kong’s ju­ris­dic­tion to en­force bor­der clear­ance.

“So does that mean more and more places on the main­land now are placed un­der Hong Kong’s ju­ris­dic­tion?” Chen asked.

On a sep­a­rate oc­ca­sion, MTR Cor­po­ra­tion Chair­man Fred­er­ick Ma Si-hang echoed Chen’s re­marks, say­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially those in busi­ness and trade, would all ben­e­fit from the XRL ar­range­ment.

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