Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung has said that Mainland Chinese officials can enforce certain court judgments at the “mainland port area” of the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus without notifying Hong Kong.

Cheung made these comments at a press event held on Saturday, responding to an incident in which a Hong Kong permanent resident, surnamed Lung, had been conveyed to Shenzhen from the station’s mainland port area.

Matthew Cheung
Matthew Cheung. Photo: GovHK.

Mainland news outlet Nanfang+ reported that the arrest had taken place last October. The case was only brought to the attention of the Hong Kong public on Friday.

“According to reports by mainland Chinese media, our understanding is that this case does not involve a so-called ‘criminal compulsory measure’. This case did not require notification under the notification mechanism,” Cheung said.

Cheung did not directly answer the question of whether the Hong Kong government had been notified on Lung’s case. He added that the Security Bureau will follow up on the incident.

Lung was reportedly involved in a civil case in 2015 over a property sale, where he was subsequently ordered by Shenzhen’s Nanshan court to return the buyer’s one million RMB (HK$1,140,650) deposit. Lung went missing, before being detained by immigration officers at the mainland border checkpoint of the West Kowloon station on October 27.

The current ‘notification mechanism’ is an administrative arrangement between the Hong Kong and Chinese governments that was put in place in 2017. It states that any side should notify the other when initiating a criminal prosecution against a resident from the other side.

The same rule is meant to be applied when one side imposes “criminal compulsory measures”  on residents from the other side. Cases of unnatural death also require notification.

West Kowloon Express Rail Link Terminal
West Kowloon Express Rail Link Terminal. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Under mainland law, criminal compulsory measures include arrests, bail pending hearing, residential surveillance, and detention.

On Saturday, Cheung added that mainland law would generally be applied at the mainland port area at the West Kowloon station, excluding certain instances of  “reserved matters.”

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, who convenes the Co-location Concern Group, criticised the Hong Kong government for being kept in the dark by mainland Chinese authorities.

Chan said the Hong Kong government should regularly communicate with mainland authorities on how the law is enforced at the mainland port area. She added that the government should notify the public in cases of incidents involving Hong Kong permanent residents.

Lawmaker James To, deputy chair of the legislature’s Panel on Security, suggested that “serious civil cases” could also be added into the current notification mechanism.

In an unrelated case reported in a mainland Chinese news outlet last week, a mainland Chinese man surnamed Zou was barred from entering Hong Kong at the mainland port area of the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus last month. He was then transported back to Shenzhen by court officials from the city.

Tanya Chan
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The joint checkpoint plan was first presented by the government to help speed up immigration procedures, as Hong Kong and mainland officials will work in the same place in the future. Critics, including pan-democratic lawmakers and the Hong Kong Bar Association, argued that the arrangement would effectively cede land to China, and was unconstitutional.

The joint checkpoint arrangement was passed into local law amid widespread controversy in June, and was further affirmed as constitutional by the High Court last month.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.