The Hong Kong-China Train: Bringing over not only passengers, but laws

It’s the latest controversial plan in Hong Kong: one that would allow Chinese mainland law to apply in Hong Kong territory.

Hong Kong has unveiled a plan to build a high-speed train that links West Kowloon to the Shenzhen border – an attempt to streamline operations at the upcoming Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, due to open in 2018 (originally supposed to be finished in 2012, but the project was five years behind schedule). The cost for this project has doubled from HK$39billion in 2007 to HK$84.4billion now. While this train, travelling at 200km/h, would highly benefit commuters and offers opportunities for new developments, it would require demolishing buildings, leaving 200 families homeless.

Under this new plan with one train and two systems, passengers must undertake border clearance procedures for both Hong Kong and China in one building. While the government says this is out of conveniency for both the police and passengers, critics say this may be violating Hong Kong law.

But that’s not the main problem – the one point that is currently under scrutiny of the public is the fact that Chinese mainland law, both criminal and civil, will be enforced in the entire area, even though it is located on Hong Kong soil.

Why exactly is this so worrying?

As many already know, Hong Kong has a different and separate legal system from mainland China (One Country, Two Systems). Because of this, citizens of Hong Kong have a much larger amount of freedom than mainland citizens, whether it is ranging from being able to access social media to protests. However, because China law will be applicable in the terminus, people could be arrested in Hong Kong territory for actions which are legal here, but not in China. Adding on to that, China has increasingly been delving into Hong Kong politics, such as bringing the Liaoning to Hong Kong.

My take on this event:

This plan has both its advantages and downfalls. On one hand, this train would benefit transportation throughout China greatly. But on the other, China is (in a sense) “violating” its “one country, two systems” policy with Hong Kong. While pro-democracy legislators say that they will try to veto this plan, it is unlikely that it will happen – why? Because four pro-democracy lawmakers were just ousted from Hong Kong’s legislature, another sign of the starkly different views and opinions between Beijing and Hong Kong.

While everything in this plan for the Hong Kong-China train is all out in the open, there is still one question that remains in the gray: who has jurisdiction on the trains?

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