Co-location decision aborts attempts to stall process
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.