18 October 2019
Lok Ma Chau Loop was originally a part of Shenzhen, but it is now located within the Hong Kong border. Photo: GovHK
Lok Ma Chau Loop was originally a part of Shenzhen, but it is now located within the Hong Kong border. Photo: GovHK

HK, Shenzhen locked in territorial dispute over Lok Ma Chau Loop

Hong Kong and Shenzhen are locked in a land ownership dispute over Lok Ma Chau Loop that may affect plans to develop it into a research center for higher education technology.

The loop, originally a part of Shenzhen, is now located within the Hong Kong border at the south of Shenzhen River after some engineering work was done in the area in 1997, the report said.

The Shenzhen government says it owns the land while the Hong Kong government insists it should manage the land as it is located within the city’s border, Apple Daily reported on Monday.

In 2007, officials from both sides set up a task force to jointly develop the loop with Hong Kong spending HK$33.7 million (US$4.33 million) for the engineering studies.

An environmental impact assessment report and the tender for early-stage construction for the loop have been completed early this year.

However, a government paper obtained by Apple Daily showed that the ownership issue has not been resolved as the Shenzhen government on Nov. 19, 2013 asked Hong Kong to accept that the loop has always belonged to Shenzhen, although Hong Kong can rent the land.

According to the government paper, the mainland municipal government on Nov. 25 asked Hong Kong to shoulder all the expenses for the project while insisting that the loop historically belongs to Shenzhen.

Subsequently, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice said the government has not received any credentials showing Shenzhen’s ownership of the land.

Legislator Lee Wing-tat, a member of the Basic Law drafting committee, was quoted as saying that the Hong Kong government cannot legally deal with issue as the borders were set by the Basic Law, which was adopted in 1990, while the loop was created in 1997.  If Hong Kong needs to claim ownership, it will have to ask the National People’s Congress to amend that portion of the Basic Law, Lee said.

Professional Commons convenor Albert Lao said if the Shenzhen government wants to take the loop back, no arbitration can help Hong Kong, not even the city’s courts.

Companies that will be involved in the project may not even be able to get bank financing because of the unsettled land ownership issue, Lao said.

The Development Bureau said it is working on the plan for the loop, but refused to answer when asked if the Hong Kong government has ownership of the land or if an amendment of the Basic Law is necessary, the report said.

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