Mainland Hijacks Hong Kong with High-Speed Lawmaking

Mainland Hijacks Hong Kong with High-Speed Lawmaking
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

What you need to know

The approval of the 'express' rail link plan sets a number of ominous precedents in extending mainland influence over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passes the Express Rail Link co-location plan. The whole episode seems to be about setting precedents.

First, it allows mainland law enforcement to operate within the city – supposedly prohibited by the Basic Law. In this case mainland law will apply only in parts of the rail station and underground line technically transferred to mainland jurisdiction, but the arrangement creates a model for Beijing to deploy cops elsewhere here. If the authorities had wanted to keep mainland immigration officers out of Hong Kong territory, they could have devised a different system.

The whole concept of the cross-border 'high-speed' rail white elephant seems to be more about symbolic integration (or merger) of Hong Kong with the Mainland than practical benefits.

Second, the earlier overriding of the Basic Law came in the form of a decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. This edict from Beijing is an "act of state" placing the issue outside Hong Kong’s control on a par with defense or foreign affairs. This is the first time Beijing has used this mechanism, but presumably not the last. Again, Beijing could have chosen a less high-handed, more constitutional approach, but didn’t.

Third, this was rammed through the legislature with time limits on debate and the silencing and ejection of opposition lawmakers. It brings the chamber another step towards a full mainland-style rubber-stamp.

Not least, the whole concept of the cross-border "high-speed" rail white elephant seems to be more about symbolic integration (or merger) of Hong Kong with the Mainland than practical benefits – as with the Zhuhai Mega-Bridge, the Bay Area Hub-Zone and whatever new mainlandizing measures are to come.

One more: does Frank Chan set new, previously unimaginable lows as the most inept, dorkiest, waste-of-space Transport and Housing Minister ever, or what?

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Pro-democracy lawmakers chant slogans against Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan (C), after Legislative Council passed a controversial bill to introduce mainland Chinese laws inside an upcoming high-speed rail station, in Hong Kong.

I declare the weekend open with some zany links.

One of the stranger ways China is trying to juggle overpriced housing and indebted developers – pressuring banks to lend money to (and subsidize) renters. To help you get your head around it, here’s a useful discussion.

How the Chinese Communist Party endangers overseas Chinese – interesting parallels between overseas Chinese/Muslims and the CCP/Salafism.

In case you missed them, HK Free Press’s Tiananmen Massacre anniversary features.

And the rainy-day mega-read: US-China strategic rivalry as clash of ideologies.

This piece was republished with permission. It was originally published on the author’s blog here.

TNL Editor: David Green