The government has said that diplomats based in mainland China will be responsible for overseeing consular services for foreigners in the mainland port area of West Kowloon’s new Express Rail Link terminal.
Dozens of consuls-generals of foreign countries came to the Legislative Council for a luncheon with lawmakers on Monday. Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam said that one of the consuls proactively raised the issue with him over lunch.
Hong Kong is set to effectively give up its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new terminus, where immigration and customs procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. The pro-democracy camp and the Hong Kong Bar Association have cast doubt over the constitutionality of the checkpoint arrangement ahead of the station’s opening later this year, with critics deeming it a “ceding” of land to China.
At the final bills committee meeting on the joint checkpoint arrangement on Monday, Tam asked the government what the role of foreign consuls in Hong Kong would be if their nationals required help in the mainland port area.
Solicitor General Wesley Wong said that China will have jurisdiction over the mainland port area: “On principle, foreign consuls in the mainland should exercise consular duties in the mainland port area.”
Wong said that, ideally, specific matters can be handled via the Chinese Foreign Ministry or relevant departments, though it was not appropriate to publicly discuss them.