Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan says that the government has “clearly heard” citizens’ opinions on the joint checkpoint system for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, and that it is generally supported by society.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Chan said that proposals such as conducting checks on the train would not work, as the train would arrive at its destination minutes after crossing the border at Shenzhen.
An alternative proposal to situate the joint checkpoint at Futian, Shenzhen North or Guangzhou South station was raised by a concern group of activists, scholars and lawmakers. In response, Chan said: “[W]e need to understand [that] stations which use joint checkpoint systems give a big boost to that city’s economy and transportation, and even employment – if it’s a good arrangement, why not do it in Hong Kong?”
The officials in charge of promoting the agreement had refused to meet with the concern group to discuss their proposals.
Chan said the government had already explained the pros and cons of each scenario in documents submitted to the Legislative Council.
Chan said said that, along with Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Security John Lee, he had explained the government’s proposal to citizens and groups on various occasions: “The opinions we received were generally approving.”
The controversial arrangement will involve “leasing” land to China and effectively giving up Hong Kong jurisdiction across a quarter of the West Kowloon terminus for faster immigration procedures performed by mainland law enforcement agents.
When asked about Executive Council member Bernard Chan’s comments that a public hearing was not needed as many in society supported the plan, the secretary added that the government had received many polls conducted by groups showing support for the government’s proposal.
“We understand that, generally speaking, Hong Kong residents accept it… We feel that, generally speaking, after the past few months of discussion, it’s very sufficient, and we must understand that the project did not start this year – it has been discussed for many years and was thoroughly debated in the Legislative Council – I believe that we have clearly heard residents’ opinions.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that the government will go ahead and start procedures needed to implement the arrangement after a non-binding motion is debated on October 25. The motion is likely to pass as the pro-Beijing camp, which supports the arrangement, holds a majority.
Pro-democracy groups and scholars have raised concerns over what they call the ceding of territory to the mainland and potential violations of the Basic Law.