Six key questions on how dual jurisdiction will work at Hong Kong’s new rail terminus
Mainland Chinese laws will be enforced in Hong Kong for the first time under a plan to designate part of the local terminus of the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou into mainland territory. The arrangement could throw up some interesting legal conundrums
1. Will travellers be caught in a “no-man’s land” – a section between the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese port areas that falls in neither jurisdiction?
No. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung says there will be no grey area after travellers have completed departure procedures and exited the Hong Kong port area. Instead a distinctive line in yellow or red will be drawn to let travellers differentiate which port area they are stepping on. This would also eliminate the possibility of travellers accidentally entering the mainland port area, Yuen stressed.
2. Should passengers in the mainland port area call the 999 Hong Kong police hotline in case of emergency?
They can. But government sources say callers will be forwarded to relevant mainland authorities under a coordination mechanism. A more likely solution is that a dedicated hotline will be set up to facilitate requests for emergency assistance.
Anyone needing medical aid will be sent to a Hong Kong hospital – Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu pointed out that procedures were in place to deal with those requiring treatment who had not cleared immigration checkpoints.
“If necessary, we will send immigration officers to accompany the persons, or to complete immigration procedures. If the persons are deemed unsuitable for entry, they will be escorted out of the city,” he said.
3. Will a baby be granted right of abode in Hong Kong if he or she is born on the train or in the mainland port area at West Kowloon station?
No. Both the train carriages and the mainland port area fall under mainland jurisdiction, where national laws apply. So babies born there will not receive Hong Kong residency status.
4. What if a passenger exits the train and jumps on the track, which is under Hong Kong jurisdiction?
Though highly unlikely, Lee said those find their way on to the tracks from the carriages will be deemed illegal immigrants. Such a scenario would also trigger the emergency coordination mechanism between the two governments, he added.
5.Will travellers still be connected to internet service providers in Hong Kong once they enter the mainland port area?
No idea. Yuen said this was a “good question” and he would like the answer himself. If Hong Kong signals were cut off and replaced by mainland services, travellers would be unable to access services such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and so on, which are censored by mainland authorities.
6. Will mainland police be present in the mainland port area?
Yes. Lee said officers would carry batons during day-to-day patrols but may equip themselves with other weapons as necessary.