Chinese immigration officials can carry out duties in Hong Kong under a proposed unified border control when the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link becomes operational in 2018.
Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen made the comment for the first time on Saturday after a meeting between Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung and mainland officials, Apple Daily reports.
Yuen said officials on both sides of the border have reached consensus on a common immigration check point which will be located in the West Kowloon terminus.
He said the two sides are considering to what extent mainland immigration authorities will be allowed to operate in Hong Kong.
They are studying the experience of other places, he said.
Yuen said similar arrangements are in place between the US and Canada and between Britain and France but these involve sovereign states unlike the Hong Kong-China border control proposal.
Former legislative councilor Margaret Ng said Article 18 of the Basic Law prohibits such an arrangement under “one country, two systems”.
Ng said allowing mainland officials to execute Chinese law in Hong Kong is unconstitutional.
This has been her worry since the financing application for the railway link was submitted to Legco years ago, she said.
Ng said it is not worth breaking the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, for the sake of a railway.
Lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who represents the legal functional constituency, said immigration should be under Hong Kong’s jurisdiction and warned against changing the Basic Law.
Senior barrister Alan Leong said he was shocked by how casually Yuen put it.
“This is a bunch of senior officials who did not even care to show support to our football team,” he said.
“I think we will be deluding ourselves if we expect them to safeguard the rights of Hong Kong people,” Leong said.
Last week, senior Hong Kong officials were reported to be unwilling to take sides in a FIFA World Cup qualifier between Hong Kong and China which ended in a scoreless draw.
Critics said the officials chose to be neutral for the sake of political correctness.
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