Allowing Mainland authorities to clear rail passengers in Hong Kong will give travellers fast and easy access to the Mainland’s high-speed rail network.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen made the statement today at a press conference outlining the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s co-location plan for the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).
Under the plan, Mainland arrival clearance is conducted immediately after departure from Hong Kong and vice-versa. This will allow passengers to complete both Hong Kong and Mainland clearance procedures in one go at West Kowloon Station.
He said it will maximise the rail’s potential and boost Hong Kong’s long-term development by fostering closer social and economic ties between the two sides, and consolidate Hong Kong’s status as a regional transport hub.
Once the Co-operation Arrangement on co-location is reached by both sides, it must be approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and then legislation will be formulated and implemented in Hong Kong, Mr Yuen said.
In discussing the plan, he said Hong Kong and Mainland authorities stipulated that co-location must comply with the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”.
Secretary for Transport & Housing Frank Chan said the co-location arrangement is critical to fully unleashing the benefits of the XRL project. He said it will bring social and economic benefits, boost connectivity with the Mainland and create employment.
Mr Chan said there are similar co-location arrangements overseas, such as those between the UK and France, and the US and Canada.
A similar co-location arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland has been operating smoothly at Shenzhen Bay Port since 2007, he added.
Secretary for Security John Lee said, under the plan, Mainland personnel can only carry out duties inside the Mainland Port Area of West Kowloon Station. They cannot take any enforcement action in other parts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
When passengers are within the Mainland Port Area they must abide by Mainland laws, he added.
Mr Yuen called on the public and legislators to rationally discuss the plan before it is tabled at the Legislative Council after its summer recess.