Will new rules at Shenzhen border be used at Hong Kong high-speed terminus?
I agree with those correspondents who think that the mainland authorities should be allowed to set up immigration checkpoints in West Kowloon railway terminus, because it will be convenient for local and international passengers.
Nevertheless, the Hong Kong government must have genuine communications with the mainland authorities to ensure the immigration checkpoints operated by mainland officials meet the service standards expected in the city.
Recently, Shenzhen customs has installed new lines of identity card scanners in all its checkpoints for passengers visiting the mainland from Hong Kong. In addition to going through the ID card readers set up by China immigration inspection, Hong Kong passengers have to present their return-home permits to another set of machines from Shenzhen customs – it is a government agency separate from immigration inspection.
While it may be necessary for Shenzhen customs to monitor cross-border traffic to curb illegal parallel trading, setting up an additional line of checkpoints is a complete waste of resources and causes great inconvenience for all passengers crossing the border checkpoints. These two mainland agencies should have shared data for effective law enforcement rather than imposing an extra burden on passengers.
In response to my inquiry, Hong Kong Immigration Department said this issue was outside its purview.
While the decision to set up the additional checkpoints was made by Shenzhen customs, to ensure the overall quality of services for passengers crossing the border, I believe the Hong Kong government should be collaborating with the Shenzhen authorities to optimise immigration arrangements on both sides of the border.
Answering my further inquiry, the department confirmed that it possesses no information regarding the future arrangement of immigration checkpoints operated by mainland authorities in West Kowloon rail terminus.
Therefore, I urge the SAR government to follow up with the mainland authorities to ensure that no extra line of checkpoints will be set up in the mainland-controlled area of West Kowloon railway station. I also hope that, through close collaboration between the Hong Kong and mainland governments in the West Kowloon joint checkpoint, China customs and China immigration inspection will learn to improve their services to meet the expectations of Hong Kong people.
This is essential for earning the trust of the city’s residents and the continued success of “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong and the mainland.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong