Co-lo­ca­tion de­ci­sion aborts at­tempts to stall process

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - Lo Man-tuen

The Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day unan­i­mously ap­proved the colo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for main­land law-en­force­ment de­part­ments to clear pas­sen­gers ac­cord­ing to rel­e­vant main­land laws in­side the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link ter­mi­nal at West Kowloon. The NPCSC de­ci­sion com­pletes the sec­ond step in a three-step process to sat­isfy pro­ce­dural jus­tice for the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment and bears far-reach­ing so­cial sig­nif­i­cance for the long-term ex­er­cise of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion.

Le­gally, the high­est in­sti­tu­tion of State power and na­tional leg­is­la­ture gave the colo­ca­tion ar­range­ment the ul­ti­mate stamp of ap­proval by declar­ing that it com­plied with the coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion and Hong Kong’s Ba­sic Law. This ren­ders ground­less and fu­tile any at­tempt to block co-lo­ca­tion by claim­ing the ar­range­ment vi­o­lates the Ba­sic Law and erodes Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy.

So­cially the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment will make it eas­ier for Hong Kong res­i­dents to travel to the main­land by high-speed train. It also boosts the in­te­gra­tion of Hong Kong’s de­vel­op­ment into the over­all de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion, which is the di­rec­tion for Hong Kong’s progress in years to come, as Gen­eral Sec­re­tary and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping noted in his re­port at the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China. NPCSC ap­proval of the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment demon­strates yet again the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s full sup­port for Hong Kong’s de­vel­op­ment.

The op­po­si­tion camp has been ob­struct­ing the three-step process of le­gal­iz­ing and im­ple­ment­ing co-lo­ca­tion all along; the real rea­son be­hind such at­tempts is ob­jec­tion to Hong Kong’s in­te­gra­tion of its own de­vel­op­ment into the over­all de­vel­op­ment strat­egy of the na­tion. The op­po­si­tion camp’s dogged ob­jec­tion to the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment is in essence re­fusal to ac­cept the re­al­ity that Hong Kong needs to in­te­grate its own de­vel­op­ment into the over­all strat­egy of the na­tion. The orig­i­nal in­tent of the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple is to fa­cil­i­tate in­te­gra­tion of Hong Kong’s de­vel­op­ment into that of the coun­try, so the city’s res­i­dents can join the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion and share the re­wards from its achieve­ments, not to sep­a­rate Hong Kong from the mother­land. It’s time the op­po­si­tion camp shook off its po­lit­i­cal bias and ac­cepted the re­al­ity that the Chi­nese na­tion is be­com­ing stronger ev­ery­day and Hong Kong must be an in­te­gral part of it.

The NPCSC de­ci­sion es­tab­lishes a le­gal ba­sis for the Hong Kong SAR and Guang­dong prov­ince to main­tain one-stop bound­ary con­trol co­op­er­a­tion at the West Kowloon ter­mi­nus. The NPCSC is also con­vinced the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment does not change the ad­min­is­tra­tive bound­aries of Hong Kong, af­fect its high de­gree of au­ton­omy or im­pair the rights and free­doms of Hong Kong res­i­dents.

The NPCSC de­ci­sion notes the ar­range­ment is con­sis­tent with the Ba­sic Law in pro­vid­ing proper poli­cies and co­or­di­nat­ing the de­vel­op­ment of dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries by cre­at­ing a suit­able busi­ness and le­gal en­vi­ron­ment for eco­nomic growth. Here the de­ci­sion refers to Ar­ti­cles 118 and 119 of the Ba­sic Law.

Ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, the NPCSC – the per­ma­nent or­gan of the high­est in­sti­tu­tion of State power, the NPC – holds the right of leg­is­la­tion and of in­ter­pret­ing na­tional laws, in­clud­ing the Ba­sic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. There­fore the NPCSC holds the ul­ti­mate right to de­ter­mine whether the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment com­plies with the Ba­sic Law. By ap­prov­ing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment the NPCSC has es­tab­lished con­sti­tu­tional grounds for one-stop bound­ary-con­trol co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Hong Kong and Guang­dong at the XRL ter­mi­nus in West Kowloon. The le­gal ef­fec­tive­ness as well as ju­rispru­den­tial ba­sis of the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment is un­chal­lenge­able. That means Hong Kong courts must re­spect and fol­low the NPCSC de­ci­sion with­out reser­va­tion, thus oblit­er­at­ing any chance of de­rail­ing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment with a ju­di­cial re­view at courts in Hong Kong.

The co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment has won over­whelm­ing pub­lic sup­port for a sim­ple rea­son: It makes trav­el­ing be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land by high-speed train eas­ier than go­ing through exit-en­try clear­ance pro­cesses at both ends of the jour­ney. The one-stop bound­ary con­trol co­op­er­a­tion ar­range­ment at the XRL ter­mi­nus in West Kowloon will ben­e­fit per­son­nel ex­changes be­tween Hong Kong and the main­land and fa­cil­i­tate Hong Kong’s ac­cess to the na­tion­wide high-speed rail­way net­work. It will also help raise the ef­fi­ciency of the Hong Kong sec­tion of the XRL, which in turn will boost the city’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and its in­te­gra­tion into the over­all de­vel­op­ment strat­egy of the coun­try.

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