A Chinese garrison is suspected of having occupied a land parcel, measuring 21,000 square feet, in Hong Kong, which it turned into a farm without the owners’ permission.
FactWire, a Hong Kong-based investigative news agency, said in a report on Sunday that the land in question is about 900 meters northwest of Sha Tau Kok Immigration Control Point and adjacent to the Sha Tau Kok River, which borders Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
The farm is closed off by mesh fence based on drone footage, FactWire said in the report.
The 13th Company of the Guangdong Border Defence Corps Sixth Detachment is stationed right across the river and there is a concrete bridge connecting the garrison in Shenzhen to a big tract of woodland on the Hong Kong side of Sha Tau Kok.
The report said Google’s satellite images of the area show that the Sha Tau Kok River originally ran along the border in 2010, but the river bent southwards into Hong Kong territory, creating a U-shaped section in 2012. This is around the time when the farm was built by the Chinese border corps garrison.
A sign on the farm states that the land was turned into a “green garden” in 2012 by border guards “with the support of superior authorities, Shatoujiao Office of Yantian District and civil affairs department”, to raise fish and poultry and grow vegetables, which suggests that it has long transgressed into Hong Kong territory.
FactWire said in its report that it had seen Chinese soldiers in camouflage fatigues cross the invisible border and move gunny sacks and wheelie bins back and forth across the bridge, suspecting that they were used the woods in Sha Tau Kok as a garbage dump.
The Lands Department was quoted as saying in the report that the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border runs through the middle of the bridge.
Responding to an inquiry from the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the department only said its office in North District is following up on the matter and trying to understand the situation.
The Security Bureau also responded by saying that it has been aware of the FactWire report and will try to look into the matter.
None of the authorities contacted responded to the question of whether the existence of the farm has violated Hong Kong law.
FactWire quoted a responsible officer at the garrison as saying that the farm was to the north of the river and therefore not part of the Hong Kong territory, adding that he was not aware of any diversion work that allowed the river to flow farther into Hong Kong.
The officer insisted the area on the other side of the bridge is a buffer zone, which its soldiers can enter without Hong Kong’s permission to perform their jobs, such as arresting smugglers or illegal immigrants, in the area.
Owners of the land told FactWire that they were not aware of the situation as regards their property nor did they receive any land resumption notice from the government.
A local lands officer at the North District Lands Office, responding to inquiries from the landowners, said the government had no record of any river work in the area in question.
The mainland government cannot conduct construction work in Hong Kong territory, FactWire quoted the local lands officer as saying.
The lands officer has yet to confirm whether the border area had been occupied by mainland authorities.
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