More than half of those surveyed in polls by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific studies support the continuation of the Express Rail Link (XRL) project, but separate immigration checkpoints received more support than a joint Hong Kong-mainland arrangement.

Express Rail Link's West Kowloon Terminus under construction. Photo: Wikimedia.
Express Rail Link’s West Kowloon Terminus under construction. Photo: Wikimedia.

In response to whether the additional budget for the XRL should be passed, 55 percent were in favour with 36 percent in opposition.

Among those in favour, 42 percent felt that as construction is already under way, halting it would be a waste. Among those in opposition to the extra budget, 44.8 percent felt that there is no need for the XRL.

In response to methods of immigration and customs checks, 47.9 percent supported separate checkpoints while a joint Hong Kong-mainland checkpoint received 41.2 percent of support. 36.6 percent supported having these checks on trains.

44.4 percent agreed that if a joint checkpoint is implemented, allowing mainland customs officers to exercise immigration powers would damage the one country, two systems principle. 50.3 percent agreed that having separate checkpoints would reduce the high-speed rail’s efficiency, causing inconvenience to passengers.

The Legislative Council Finance Committee is holding an additional 16 hours of meetings in March in order to pass the additional budget for XRL. The government has said that if the budget is not passed this month, the XRL project would be halted.

HK-Guangzhou high-speed railway terminus
Digital model of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway terminus in West Kowloon. Photo: MTRC.

The construction project is managed by the MTR Corporation. It has been plagued by budget overruns and repeated delays, to many lawmakers’ discontent. Some lawmakers have argued that the adoption of a shared Hong Kong-mainland facility could violate the Basic Law but the government is confident it will achieve a joint checkpoint.

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.