Hong Kong immigration officers can do fast-train checks for the mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 5:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 10:55pm

It is strange that despite Beijing constantly spouting “one country, two systems”, when it comes to it, it doesn’t want to respect the two systems aspect. Which is why Beijing wants to place its own people in Hong Kong, exercising their own jurisdiction.

Hongkongers don’t need the mainland authorities in Hong Kong to conduct simple immigration procedures. Of course, China wants to control whom it allows into the mainland – this is what we are accustomed to when travelling to Shenzhen via Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau. We pass through Hong Kong customs, walk a few yards and then go through Chinese customs.

The same could be done for the high-speed train at West Kowloon terminus, with two sets of customs officers – one to see us out of Hong Kong and the other to give permission (or not) to enter the mainland. The difference would be that the second check would be by Hong Kong immigration officers acting on behalf of (and in accordance with the instructions of) their mainland counterparts. The first set of immigration officers would deal with exiting Hong Kong, and the second with permission to enter the mainland.

The second group act as agents for Chinese immigration officials who can connect with their Hong Kong agents via computer, phone and screen-sharing.

The immigration officials on the mainland can see exactly what they would see if they were physically in Hong Kong. They can go through exactly the same checks. Then they can tell the Hong Kong agent “yes” or “no”. If it is a yes, then the traveller’s ticket is validated accordingly. If it is no then, similarly, the ticket is invalidated. Without a valid ticket, the traveller will not be allowed through the gate and then onto the train. And isn’t that what this is all about?

The Chinese authorities want to have control over who gets on that train and, hence, into mainland China. It is such a simple matter – if there is no valid ticket, a traveller cannot get through the gate, cannot board the train; if they cannot get on the train, they cannot get into the mainland.

With computers and cooperation all this can be done remotely. There is no need for Chinese immigration officers to be stationed in Hong Kong.

Christopher Anthony Southam, Sheung Wan