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Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said on Monday that city residents were “calm” about leasing part of the West Kowloon terminus to mainland authorities for joint checkpoint facilities, echoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s assertion that the public would eventually accept the “co-location” deal.
As opposition politicians spearheaded a campaign against the plan, accusing the local government of ceding territory to the mainland and undermining the “one country, two systems” principle, Wang said the general response had been “rational”.
“The co-location arrangement is completely consistent with the Basic Law and ‘one country, two systems’,” he said. “I believe most people in the city will support it because it will bring economic and social benefits.”
Lam struck a similarly optimistic note after a meeting at the headquarters of the state-owned China Railway Corporation in Beijing.
“The Hong Kong public is calm in general, and understands the explanation ... Opinion polls show that the majority of people look forward to the official launch of the station,” she said.
One station, two systems: how joint checkpoint will work for Hong Kong-mainland China high-speed rail lineShe said the government was unworried by legal challenges to the arrangement, as it was acting on solid legal foundations. Her administration would not ask the national legislature to reinterpret the Basic Law on the topic, she added.
Under the arrangement, when the HK$84.4 billion railway is up and running in the third quarter of next year, mainland officers will be able to exercise almost full jurisdiction in a 25 per cent portion of the terminus that the central government will lease from the local government.
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Hong Kong currently cannot lease land in that manner, but will seek permission from the National People’s Congress Standing Committee under Article 20 of the Basic Law, which allows Beijing to grant the city the power to do so.
efore heading into the railway meeting on Monday, Lam stressed the importance of the project for Hong Kong’s economic and social development, especially in terms of youth employment.
“We are confident that in the next two to three months, Hong Kong citizens will welcome the joint immigration and customs facilities at the high-speed railway after thorough explanation,” she said.
“Only such an arrangement can unleash the economic and social benefits brought by the high-speed railway.”
China Railway’s general manager, Lu Dongfu, said the cross-border link was an integral part of the country’s infrastructure network and would play a major role in strengthening ties between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie also defended the arrangement, saying separately that it complied with the mini-constitution and that people’s freedom would not be under threat.
This article first appeared on www.scmp.com
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