Ma­jor­ity sup­port co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for ex­press rail

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The co-lo­ca­tion boundary con­trol ar­range­ment for the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link ter­mi­nus in West Kowloon was fi­nally un­veiled on July 25. The pub­lic gen­er­ally sup­port the pro­posal, be­liev­ing it is a log­i­cal and ap­pro­pri­ate ar­range­ment. A re­cent on­line sur­vey con­ducted by a me­dia com­pany showed 84 per­cent of re­spon­dents in Hong Kong back this plan, sug­gest­ing the ar­range­ment is sup­ported by main­stream pub­lic opin­ion.

As a mat­ter of fact, a joint boundary check­point has been im­ple­mented for years at the Shen­zhen Bay Port, where of­fi­cers from both Hong Kong and Shen­zhen have worked har­mo­niously within the same build­ing on the Shen­zhen side, pro­vid­ing con­ve­nient ser­vices for trav­el­ing res­i­dents and tourists. The ar­range­ment pro­posed by au­thor­i­ties is quite sim­i­lar — a con­fined area in­side the West Kowloon ter­mi­nus will be leased to the Chi­nese main­land for au­tho­rized main­land of­fi­cers to con­duct boundary con­trol op­er­a­tions. As long as the area and its func­tions are clearly spec­i­fied, the ar­range­ment wouldn’t be an is­sue for gen­eral pub­lic.

Once the Hong Kong sec­tion is linked up with the na­tional high-speed rail net­work, which ex­ceeds 20,000 kilo­me­ters (more than 60 per­cent of high-speed track world­wide), it will not only ben­e­fit the trav­el­ers, but will also gen­er­ate a far-reach­ing and pro­found eco­nomic im­pact.

First of all, it will fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Hong Kong and other ma­jor cities on the main­land. Im­proved co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two sides will greatly con­trib­ute to Hong Kong’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Sec­ond, the liv­ing cir­cle of peo­ple on both sides will be sub­stan­tially ex­panded; what’s more, a new tourist route could be formed along The au­thor is pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong.

the rail­way. By then, the West Kowloon Cul­tural Dis­trict will be a new place of in­ter­est in the eyes of tourists, pro­mot­ing both the tourism and cul­ture in­dus­try in Hong Kong. Third, the op­er­a­tion of the ex­press rail can stim­u­late the la­bor mar­ket — re­tail, din­ing and trans­port fa­cil­i­ties will pro­vide abun­dant job op­por­tu­ni­ties in so­ci­ety. Last but not least, many trans-boundary buses will be sub­sti­tuted by the rail, which is en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly in terms of al­le­vi­at­ing green­house gas pro­duc­tion and air pol­lu­tion, since it will cut about 4,700 tons of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions every year.

In ad­di­tion, as the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive moves ahead the main­land’s high-speed rail op­er­a­tors are also tap­ping the in­ter­na­tional lo­gis­tics mar­ket. It is pre­dictable that the high-speed rail will be a ba­sic and im­por­tant means of trans­port in the fu­ture world, and Hong Kong can­not af­ford to be alien­ated or marginal­ized in this trend. By con­nect­ing to the na­tional rail­way net­work, Hong Kong will be more ready to par­tic­i­pate in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area project.

The newly an­nounced ar­range­ment is the re­sult of a long-time dis­cus­sion and re­search by the cen­tral and spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ments, both of whom want the Ex­press Rail Link in Hong Kong to re­al­ize the max­i­mum ben­e­fits. The joint check­point ar­range­ment should have been a no­brainer, were it not for the politi­ciza­tion by agenda-driven politi­cians. As ex­pected, af­ter its an­nounce­ment, some peo­ple from the op­po­si­tion cam­paign im­me­di­ately mis­rep­re­sented this mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial ar­range­ment as an act of “ced­ing ter­ri­tory”, sab­o­tag­ing “one coun­try, two sys­tems”, and vi­o­lat­ing the Ba­sic Law. For any sen­si­ble peo­ple, such no­tions are ab­surd and ridicu­lous.

Ever since the de­ci­sion was taken for Hong Kong to build the Ex­press Rail Link, these politi­cians have made every at­tempt to ob­struct the project. The only rea­son for their ob­jec­tion is an anti-main­land sen­ti­ment, which ab­hors any move to fur­ther Hong Kong’s in­te­gra­tion with the main­land. The rail link, which fa­cil­i­tates closer ties be­tween the two sides, is un­der­stand­ingly a thorn in their flesh. Op­pos­ing the joint check­point is the only means they have to stop the project.

But the re­al­ity is that the av­er­age daily flow of peo­ple be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land ex­ceeds 600,000. The crowds at Lo Wu, Huang­gang, Lok Ma Chau and Shen­zhen Bay ports tes­tify to the close ties be­tween the two sides. This is not sur­pris­ing at all. Peo­ple do need to shut­tle back and forth over the boundary for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing vis­it­ing rel­a­tives, con­duct­ing busi­ness and sight­see­ing. No anti-main­land ma­neu­ver can ever sever the close con­nec­tion be­tween the two sides, no mat­ter how hard the ill­willed politi­cians try.

In his re­cent visit Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ad­vised Hong Kong peo­ple to seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties and fo­cus on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. From any per­spec­tive, Hong Kong is the ben­e­fi­ciary of the one-stop boundary con­trol for the Ex­press Rail Link. This per­fect chance to join the na­tional net­work of rail­ways can­not be missed due to some mis­lead­ing opin­ions.


Peo­ple pray while hold­ing in­cense sticks in the hot sum­mer sun around noon at Wong Tai Sin Tem­ple in Kowloon.

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