The joint Hong Kong-mainland checkpoint arrangement for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) can be arranged through a deal between the Hong Kong and mainland governments, says Rao Geping, a law scholar and Basic Law Committee member.

Approval from the National Legislature would be needed to enact mainland immigration laws at the West Kowloon XRL terminus. This would mean that there is no need to incorporate any relevant mainland Chinese laws into Annex III of the Basic Law, according to Rao.

Rao added that this move will not damage the principle of One Country, Two Systems and does not violate the Basic Law.

Rao Geping
Rao Geping. File

“The decision by the national legislature does not override the Basic Law, because the Basic Law already is the decision of the national legislature,” said Rao.

‘Very damaging’

Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, pro-democracy Civic Party lawmaker representing the Legal functional constituency, disagreed with Rao’s comments.

“The private deal between the Hong Kong government and the mainland government, as proposed by Rao Geping, if implemented, will be very damaging to One Country Two Systems,” he told HKFP.

“It is a blatant breach of the Basic Law, the basis of the principle of One Country Two Systems. Article 18 of the Basic Law makes it very clear that national laws shall not be applied in Hong Kong except for those listed in Annex III.”

dennis kwok
Dennis Kwok. File photo: Wikicommons.

“Any agreement to permit mainland officials to administer PRC law in Hong Kong, be that criminal laws or simply immigration laws, or to cede a part of the territory for mainland jurisdiction, will be an obvious interference with the Basic Law,” he added.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun also said to reporters that if the matter was not dealt with through the Annex III, there is high chance that it could be ruled to be violating the Basic Law in the case of a judicial review.

The Department of Justice told Commercial Radio that Rao’s suggestion is one of the paths being explored, but no decisions have been made as of yet.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.