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Express Rail row: Carrie Lam confident legislature will approve ‘pragmatic’ joint border mechanism on Wednesday

Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the joint border checkpoint arrangement for the express rail link is “very pragmatic” and urged opposition lawmakers to stop delaying its approval at the legislature.

She said she was confident that the Legislative Council would pass the motion raised by the government on Wednesday. Although the controversial joint checkpoint motion would be non-binding, the government has said it would seek the legislature’s permission before starting a three-step procedure to approve the mechanism.

The democrats have employed unprecedented tactics to stall the motion from being passed. But the government has secured enough votes for it to pass, even if it is only supported by the pro-Beijing camp. After the LegCo completes its Q&A session on Wednesday morning, officials will offer their responses and a vote will then take place.

Carrie Lam

Carrie Lam. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The mechanism will involve “leasing” land to China and effectively giving up Hong Kong jurisdiction across a quarter of the West Kowloon terminus for faster immigration procedures performed by mainland law enforcement agents. The station is set to open next year.

“The joint checkpoint arrangement is a very pragmatic proposal, and it has received support from the majority of the public,” she told reporters ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday. “I hope [democrats] will support it. Even if they don’t support it, there is also no point in delaying this proposal which is supported by the majority of the lawmakers.”

“With that, we will have the good basis to commence the three-step approach.”

The three steps include: reaching an agreement with mainland authorities; seeking approval from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to give Hong Kong power to “lease” land to the mainland; and enacting the arrangement through local legislation.

Express Rail Link

West Kowloon Terminus of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. File Photo: GovHK.

Lam added that there was a timetable for the legislative process since the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is expected to start running by the third quarter of next year.

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Express Rail row: Carrie Lam confident legislature will approve 'pragmatic' joint border mechanism on Wednesday