The plan to give Beijing authorities jurisdiction within Hong Kong’s high-speed rail terminus is the most serious violation of the Basic Law since 1997, according to the city’s pro-democrat opposition. From a constitutional rule-of-law point of view, they may be right. But from a Leninist rule-by-law might-is-right perspective, it is fine.

Even Hong Kong’s top officials and pro-Beijing supporters had joined pro-dems in assuming that the arrangement would need to comply with the Basic Law. (This report lists Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen plus pro-Beijing shoe-shining lawyers Ronny Tong, Maria Tam and Elsie Leung suggesting no fewer than seven Basic Law articles as relevant. Watch them – give or take Ronny – now forget their previous positions and eagerly endorse Beijing’s chosen course.)

But to the Communist Party, scrabbling for legal justification is unbecoming. So Beijing has simply handed down an edict that overrides – indeed disregards – the ‘mini-constitution’ or any other written law. It is also beyond the jurisdiction of the local courts.

When asked, the Hong Kong government and its supporters try to shift the subject to the supposed benefits of the high-speed rail link, and cheerfully remind us that we don’t have to enter Mainland jurisdiction in the bowels of West Kowloon unless we really want to.

When pushed, they will take the line that this method of instantly creating new constitutional facts is all above-board and rules-based: it was initiated by the Hong Kong government, passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and must still go through our own Legislative Council. This ignores the fact that these three bodies are, respectively, Beijing-appointed, a Beijing rubber-stamp, and currently being turned into a Beijing rubber-stamp.

Pro-democrats will protest that this method of conjuring new law into being is alien to Hong Kong’s legal system (even more so than the previously used ‘interpretation’, which at least acknowledges the existence of the Basic Law by magically bestowing different or additional meanings to the document). They will point out that it could be used to extend direct Mainland jurisdiction to any part of Hong Kong on a whim. Actually, following CCP-Leninist logic, there is nothing it could not be used for.

Unlike our local puppet-leaders, Mainland official in charge of telling Hongkongers who’s boss Li Fei is probably being more honest about all this. He bats away questions by blandly stating that everything about the high-speed rail arrangement fully complies with whatever Beijing says it complies with, and is beyond dispute. In short: what we say goes – shut up. What were you expecting under a Communist Party dictatorship?

(See also here.)


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10 Responses to Railroaded

  1. Probably says:

    Joint customs arrangements make sense from a traveller logistics perspective so one can exit swiftly upon destination arrival. Look at Eurostar in London, Ashford, Lille and Paris where both sets of customs are passed before boarding the train. So where are the joint customs arrangements for HK in Guangzhou?

  2. FeiLo says:

    it merits to be repeated again: start turning back all these sycophants/turncoats/sock puppets in the HK government once they try to enter their abodes in Canada/Australia/UK and so on. They need to understand in no uncertain terms that the cost of their “patriotism” is to be relegated to travel in BJ/SH or whatever second tier backwater in the glorious motherland.

  3. reductio says:

    Here’s Albert Chen (Professor at HKU, God help us):

    ‘“Beijing authorities view the articles from the perspective of legislative intent … which is a bit different from the local legal ­sector, which understands [it] from the wording,” said Chen, who is also a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, suggesting that reflected the difference between mainland law and a common law system.’

    “A bit different” ??

    Worth a read:


  4. Co-location arrangements do, as the Hong Kong government argues, make sense. The problem here is trust. No one (except perhaps Nigel Farage) sees the presence of French officials at the Eurostar terminus in London as part of a devious French plan to turn the UK into a French département.

  5. Ook says:

    “Popular” (above) is absolutely right, and I cannot understand the problem. You’re traveling to mainland China, you need to go through controls at some point. Better to do it before you start the journey.
    For US-bound trips, Canadians have had border controls inside Canadian airports since the 1960s (so yes, the “US quarantine” area is considered to be under US control, but so what?). It is vastly popular, because once you cross the line, you’re on a domestic flight and don’t have to budget an unknown amount of time to clear US passport control at the destination.

  6. Here’s a question: suppose two local station cleaners working within the leased area get into a fight and one kills the other. Both are Hong Kong people within Hong Kong, and the case has no connection with travelling on the train. Is the killer tried under Hong Kong law or mainland law? This could mean the difference between a life sentence and the death penalty.

  7. Knownot says:

    As Old Newcomer says (1.25 pm), the problem here is trust – and also power.

    When the Basic Law was written China was, or felt, relatively weak, and tacitly said to Hong Kong and Britain: We admit that we are not trusted, and so we accept this restriction.

    Now China is, or feels, relatively strong, and is no longer willing to make that admission, even tacitly, even though it’s still true.

  8. LRE says:

    The pro-dictatorship camp’s point — that it makes sense to have a co-location — is technically valid, but the pro-democracy camp’s point that it makes zero sense to worth ditch the security for Hong Kong’s way of life offered by the Basic Flaw to save (mostly mainland) travellers a few minutes queuing is the elephant in the room that you have to wilfully ignore to accept the pro-dictatorship camp’s point.

    Indeed, all the analogies with Homeland security and Canada fail to encompass the real weirdness here: that this border control (Visa & passport/ID card required) is within what is purported to be “one” country and yet is far more restrictive than travel between states in the US (domestic travel = no passport control) or even countries in the EU (visa-free, passport control only by small-minded countries like the UK).

  9. Headache says:

    Place your bets: how long before the first HK-based dissident “voluntarily” enters the terminus and, thereupon, the warm embrace of some nameless division of the PRC police?

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