Hong Kong express rail link launches amid controversy

Hong Kong express rail link launches amid controversy
The Express Rail Link connects Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in 40 minutes - less than half the time taken by older trains.

Chinese authorities will be able to operate at a joint checkpoint at the station, and on the trains.

This is controversial as it marks the first time Chinese criminal law will be enforced in Hong Kong territory.

Critics say this violates Hong Kong s freedoms and mini-constitution.

The rail link was launched at a ceremony on Saturday, with one local lawmaker praising the first bullet train journey to Guangzhou South as "very quiet, like I was on a plane".

Government officials say the rail link will boost businesses in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

The rail link will open to the public on Sunday - and also boost train connections with the rest of mainland China, including the capital Beijing.

Image caption Hong Kong s Chief Executive Carrie Lam (centre, at West Kowloon station) said the network would connect "three leading cities undergoing rapid development"

However, pro-democracy legislators boycotted the opening ceremony, and staged a protest outside the station, saying the rail link undermines Hong Kong s independent legal system.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997, under an agreement that the territory would enjoy "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs", for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own laws, protections for certain rights and freedoms, and most mainland Chinese laws cannot be applied in the territory.

The new rail link will mark the first time Chinese officials can enforce Chinese law in Hong Kong, in parts of the station, and on trains.

China s top legislative body has said the arrangement does not undermine Hong Kong s autonomy, and its proponents argue it streamlines the immigration process.
News Topics :
Under the so called one country, two systems formula, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and certain freedoms not available in China. The ban comes amid growing concerns those...
A family has dinner at an illegal mini apartment in a factory in the Kwai Chung area of Hong Kong late last month. Never ending disputes between the city s Beijing backed leadership...
The UK has said it is concerned after police in Hong Kong requested a ban on a small political party that campaigns for the territory s independence. Officials in Hong...
HONG KONG One of the five Hong Kong booksellers whose disappearances sparked international concern said Thursday he spent months confined in a room under constant surveillance by mainland Chinese...
A small electoral college began voting for a new Hong Kong leader on Sunday amid accusations that Beijing is meddling and denying the Chinese ruled financial hub a more populist leader...