Crossing a yellow line becomes the in thing

Top News | Phoenix Un and Amy Nip 24 Sep 2018

The mainland port area at the West Kowloon terminal was an attraction on the first day of operations of the Express Rail Link, with people jumping back and forth over a yellow line separating it from Hong Kong territory.

A co-location arrangement now in effect at the West Kowloon facility has been controversial, with the pro-democracy camp and the Bar Association notably challenging its legality.

The arrangements for basing mainland personnel within a pocket of the SAR went ahead after the country's top legislative body, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, endorsed the plan.

Passengers taking the express rail yesterday were naturally keen to check out the 100,000-square-meter area that includes the mainland immigration zone and the platform. The mainland also holds sway on trains.

The yellow line lets people know when they are going under mainland jurisdiction. Above the line a dozen security cameras hang.

Many passengers kept one leg on the Hong Kong side and put the other on the mainland side to take selfies.

Hong Kong immigration officers were lenient about such moves on the big day. They seemed to be willing to allow people to take as many pictures as they wanted.

Mainland officers were much stricter, stopping people from flashing their cameras as they crossed the line and approached counters.

There are more than 20 staffed immigration counters and another 20 e-channels. There was a strong security presence, with at least 30 mainland police officers on the floor.

All signs are in simplified Chinese rather than traditional characters. Some are also in English.

Also in the mainland port area is a police station, a railway police office and a room for officers that has a bunk bed among facilities.

Civic Party legislator Tanya Chan Suk-chong was also considering the facilities yesterday - but not at the terminal.

She was at City Forum saying the Hong Kong government had failed to say how many officers are stationed in the mainland port area, making it difficult for local lawmakers to monitor the situation.

But a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Kaizer Lau Ping-cheung, criticized Chan for her "conspiracy theories."

If Chan was worried about mainland officers, Lau said, she should just avoid taking the express rail.

Some establishment lawmakers had the chance to take the train from Kowloon to Guangzhou South station on Saturday following a ceremony overseen by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui.

Among them was Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, who praised mainland personnel at West Kowloon. They were friendlier and not rude like officers in some countries, he said on a radio program.

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