HK society welcomes joint checkpoint plan
Hong Kong’s business leaders and legal professionals have expressed high hopes for closer cross-boundary integration and ties after the nation’s top legislature on Wednesday approved a jointcheckpoint arrangement for the Express Rail Link.
The arrangement, key to the Guangzhou-ShenzhenHong Kong XRL, will let passengers pass through Hong Kong and mainland customs and immigration procedures in one go at the West Kowloon Station. Officials from both sides will perform duties in designated areas at the terminus in accordance with their laws and regulations.
Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman Peter Lam Kinngok welcomed the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decision.
Lam said the joint checkpoint arrangement would simplify entry and exit procedures and further streamline exchanges between people from both sides.
Lam said he expected the arrangement would boost the travel industry as it would have a positive impact for Hong Kong by improving cooperation on tourism with mainland cities.
Eric Fung Kwok-yau, president of Hong Kong Professionals (Beijing) Association, said the arrangement is a win-win solution for both sides, as it enhances the exchange of people and goods between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Acknowledging the economic benefits the arrangement is expected to bring, Fung said the special administrative region government should fast-track the local legislation to enact it.
Simon Ho — a member of a Hong Kong business chamber based in Beijing — said Hong Kong being linked to the national high-speed railway network can facilitate the city’s integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as well as Hong Kong residents’ connection to mainland cities.
“It is a common aspiration of Hong Kong residents working, doing business and studying on the mainland, for a long time, to open the Hong Kong section of the XRL,” Ho said.
Hong Kong’s legal sector also hailed the legality of the arrangement.
Executive Councilor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a practicing barrister, said the arrangement, as approved by the NPCSC, is appropriate for transport arrangements and economic development, and will not impair Hong Kong’s governance and the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents.
Practicing lawyer Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, vicechairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, also backed the legal foundation of the NPCSC decision.
Cheung said the arrangement is absolutely in line with the Constitution, the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”.