Today, the Chief Executive and the Executive Council approved the Co-location arrangement for the Express Rail Link within the West Kowloon railway station. The Mainland will be able to to establish the Mainland Port Area (MPA) to perform their duties of immigration control on travellers, customs procedures and screening for infectious diseases. This will be implemented in three steps. First, the Mainland and the HKSAR are to reach a Co-operation Arrangement in relation to the implementation of the co-location arrangement. Second, the NPC Standing Committee approves and endorses the “Co-operation Agreement”. Third, the HKSAR and the Mainland implement the arrangement pursuant to their respective procedures. Local legislation will be necessary for the case of Hong Kong.
The DAB responds to these developments with the following:
•The DAB supports Co-location arrangement inside the station. After the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) is completed, local residents will be able to travel to a large number of important cities on the Mainland directly from Hong Kong, cutting down drastically on travel time. A number of these cities can be reached on the same day, which is indeed very convenient for travelers. The co-location arrangement will definitely increase the efficiency of the XRL and will strongly improve Hong Kong’s competitiveness.
•The DAB held a phone survey on the co-location issue in April. The survey results showed that over 60% of residents surveyed were in favour of constructing the Express Rail Link and accepted the practicality of co-location arrangements for customs procedures. Among those who approved of Hong Kong building the Express Rail Link, 86% of them approved of co-location. Therefore, co-location for the train station is in line with the hopes of local residents.
•In regards to the Mainland Port Area in the West Kowloon station and being able to enforce Mainland law there, the DAB feels that this is identical to the long-standing co-location arrangement at the Shenzhen Bay Border Crossing. This has gone on at Shenzhen Bay for 10 years and it is proven to be efficient and practical, as many Hong Kong residents can personally attest to. Therefore, just as Hong Kong customs officers operate in Shenzhen Bay, it is normal and indeed imperative that Mainland customs officials will enforce Mainland law within their section of the station in West Kowloon. We also believe that as the “Co-operation Arrangement” and the entire co-location issue was approved by the NPC Central Committee and then approved by local authorities, the entire issue was dealt with in a safe and stable manner.
•The DAB will deeply research the details of the “Co-operation Arrangement” and ensure that the co-location of customs offices in the station will run smoothly and in a feasible manner that will not cause security problems for the HKSAR. At the same time, we urge the government to strengthen its communication with local residents by explaining the issue in order to dispel rumours and unnecessary misunderstandings. We will ensure that the co-location arrangements will be implemented smoothly, and we will ensure that these arrangements will allow travelers to undergo customs procedures smoothly and comfortably, and in a convenient way.
Media Contact: DAB Chairperson Starry Lee Wai King (7770-0820)