HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s legislature accepted a controversial plan late Thursday to allow mainland Chinese police officers to operate in a section of a new train station scheduled to open this yr.
To the Hong Kong authorities, the West Kowloon station is necessary economically, accelerating entry to mainland China and its rising high-speed rail community. But to many authorized students and democracy supporters, it’s a entice that can rob Hong Kong of a measure of autonomy, and set the stage for it to lose rather more sooner or later.
The new rail line will lower the two-hour journey between Hong Kong and town of Guangzhou to 48 minutes. Some critics, although, have questioned the venture’s $10.eight billion value, a rise from the unique estimate of $eight.three billion, when Hong Kong already has rail hyperlinks with mainland China, along with air, highway and ferry connections.
The greatest subject, although, shouldn’t be the worth tag of the sweeping, clamshell-shaped station, inbuilt western Kowloon close to buying malls, residence towers and a brand new arts district. More troubling to many is that within the coronary heart of Hong Kong, mainland Chinese regulation will maintain sway over 26 acres of flooring house within the station, an space barely bigger than Yankee Stadium.
When Hong Kong was returned to Chinese management in 1997, the association with Beijing was that it might be given a “high degree of autonomy” beneath a mannequin of “one country, two systems.” For 50 years Hong Kong might maintain its unbiased courts, its free-market economic system and its freewheeling press, whereas Beijing was answerable for issues of state like nationwide protection and international relations.
The granting of mainland jurisdiction is a delicate but highly effective approach to undermine Hong Kong’s distinctive standing, stated Victoria Hui, an affiliate professor of political science on the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
“Instead of sending bullets into Hong Kong, they’re sending a bullet train,” she stated.
The new station “will become a horrifying precedent that it’s possible to introduce laws from China in Hong Kong without any legal basis,” stated Chris Ng, a consultant of the Progressive Lawyers Group, a Hong Kong group that promotes democracy and the rule of regulation.
The mainland officers would have authority over a customs and immigration space that makes up about one-quarter of the West Kowloon station.
Eric Cheung, a professor of regulation on the University of Hong Kong, stated there was a threat that the passage of the station association would bypass Hong Kong’s courts. But Hong Kong’s secretary for justice, Teresa Cheng, stated it must bear court docket scrutiny, although she stated she believed the plan was on stable authorized floor.
Pro-democracy legislators tried to restrict the scope or permanence of the mainland officers with a collection of amendments, however they have been all defeated Thursday.
After a series of dismissals of pro-democracy legislators up to now yr, the camp has misplaced a lot of its veto energy. Five lawmakers have been barred from the chamber after protesting the measure on Wednesday. The last vote was accepted by a 40-to-20 vote as a whole lot of demonstrators watched from outdoors.