The Secretary for Justice has re-stated his opinion that on-train immigration inspections for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link would be “rather difficult” to put into operation.

There have been long standing doubts as to whether a joint checkpoint arrangement can be achieved at the West Kowloon terminus without violating the One Country, Two Systems principle and the Basic Law.

This week, at a political conference in the Chinese capital, pro-Beijing lawmaker Ng Leung-sing suggested adopting on-train immigration inspections. The pro-democracy Civic Party has also previously suggested conducting inspections on the train.

Rimsky Yuen.
Rimsky Yuen. File Photo: Gov HK, CSR Corporation.

Justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said before a duty trip to Macau on Thursday that the government will not give up looking into any arrangement that is legal and feasible to operate.

“The travel time for the Express Rail Link is rather short,” Yuen said. “When we designed the Express Rail Link, we wished to [have] a fast network, so under the current calculations and studies, in relation to the duration for on-train immigration inspections to be implemented, we feel there are a lot of issues to be discussed on the operational side. We have talked about this at the Legislative Council in the past – so it is rather difficult.”

The Express Rail Link trains would take around 14 minutes to travel from the West Kowloon terminus to Futian, the first station across the mainland border.

Yuen also said that a joint checkpoint arrangement was still under discussion, since it involved “some rather complicated issues” and there has yet to be a specific plan.

“But when there are specific details, we will report to Hong Kong society, and report to the Legislative Council, and therefore you will have an opportunity to discuss the relevant suggestions.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.