Hong Kong will charge mainland authorities HK$1,000 a year for the use of a 1.1 million square feet port area at the terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, located in the core of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong will effectively give up its jurisdiction inside the mainland port area – starting from September 4 – where immigration and customs procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents.
The Hong Kong government said that, in exchange, Shenzhen will reduce the fee for a 4.4 million square feet area rented to Hong Kong at the Shenzhen Bay Port. It will drop from 8.1 million Chinese yuan per year (HK$9.3 million) to 1,000 Chinese yuan (HK$1,148) starting from July 1 next year.
The Hong Kong government said that it was “reasonable for Hong Kong to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate the Mainland authorities’ assistance with the implementation of the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station.”
But Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said the HK$1,000 rent was “laughable” since the West Kowloon terminus is in Hong Kong’s most expensive area.
At the International Commerce Centre next to the terminus, rent can cost as much as HK$100 per square foot. If rent for the mainland port area followed the market rate, it could be worth HK$100 million.
Chan said the arrangement to reduce rent for the Shenzhen Bay Port was hypocritical, since Hong Kong had already paid HK$4.2 billion to build the port and in land development fees.
“We have also been paying the 8 million [Chinese yuan] plan for 11 years – it was nearly HK$100 million. Hong Kong people have been cheated from the beginning,” she said, referring to the fees for the Shenzhen Bay Port.
Chan also questioned if mainland authorities needed to start working in the mainland port area three weeks before trains start running on September 23.
She said the arrangement to start operating the mainland port area early was to create favourable conditions for the government in facing upcoming legal challenges.
New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip said the nominal amount of rent charged was reasonable.
“[The mainland port area] is a public facility, there will not be any for-profit element. For instance, there will not be any duty-free shops inside – it will only be used by [mainland] government officers. Therefore, the HK$1,000 rent is reasonable,” she said.
Asked about Hong Kong paying millions in rent to Shenzhen in the past, Ip said Hong Kong and Shenzhen have different land policies.
“The Hong Kong government has always had a policy where we only ask for HK$1,000 in rent for non-profit-making facilities,” she said.
She also denied the arrangement meant Hong Kong was “ceding land” to the mainland.