A pro-democracy lawmaker has questioned the monetary cost for the mainland to lease parts of Hong Kong land in the joint checkpoint arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
The government proposal would be a reversal of the Shenzhen Bay control point implemented in 2007, where Hong Kong leased a part of Shenzhen for immigration purposes. Hong Kong pays around HK$7 million a year for the lease.
Lam Cheuk-ting of the Democratic Party said documents show that Hong Kong was required to pay a one-off extra land development fee to Shenzhen totalling RMB 1.537 billion (HK$1.776 billion) in 2007.
At a press conference on Tuesday, transport secretary Frank Chan did not disclose how much the mainland will have to pay annually when asked by reporters.
Lam criticised the omission, saying: “the government completely neglected to say whether it will ask the mainland for the relevant land development fees, or even building costs.”
“The mainland port area will occupy at least a quarter of the station. Shouldn’t mainland authorities pay the relevant costs? They could be as much as billions of dollars.”
The Express Rail Link project will cost Hong Kong HK$84.4 billion.Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen on Wednesday compared the joint checkpoint arrangement to a landlord taking back part of a property rented to a tenant. He compared Beijing to a landlord and Hong Kong to a tenant.
“The landlord rented a house to me and then discovered there was not enough [space] for him to use, so he asked me: ‘hey, can you rent a room back to me?’” he said. “This is within his rights.”
But Lam said Yuen’s analogy was ridiculous.
“The Hong Kong government is now a puppet of the central government. If the Hong Kong government agrees to cancel or change the lease, does that mean the central government can reduce the territory of Hong Kong on a large scale?” he said.
“This will destroy the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle and the Basic Law will become a piece of waste paper.”