With great fanfare and self-patting-on-the-back, the West Kowloon Station opened and the first trains left for mainland China (well, in fact, most of the traffic was south-bound, into Hong Kong). What is baffling to me is that the mere fact that the trains ran and that there were people on them seemed to be enough for the politicians to claim that they were right and protesters were wrong and should just shut-up.
There are many reasons why that position is untenable.
1. The high-speed rail remains a sorry example of cost overruns and mismanagement.
2018/09/23/cost-overruns- constitutional-debate-hong- kongs-controversial-express- rail-link-explained/
- The 26km high-speed line is HK $19.5 billion overbudget, a full 30% over-expenditure
- 3 years late (60% time overrun)
- Incorrect assessment of use:
As of today, it would seem that southbound trips vastly outweigh northbound ones and overall, vastly under the forecasts (already revised down) which were said to be conservative (forecasts below).
“With the nine trains procured by the MTRCL and current train path allocation of the MTRCL and the Mainland operator, the daily maximum carrying capacities of the XRL trains are around 136 000 for 2018 and 2021 and 225 300 for 2031 respectively. In other words, there is ample capacity for the XRL to accommodate more passengers. Having regard to the fast-growing economic and tourist developments around the short-haul destinations, we are optimistic that the actual patronage of the XRL would exceed the above current patronage forecast.”https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr17-
Yet, the West Kowloon Station has only reached that “conservative” 80,000 daily patronage once since it opened, on October 5th, 2018. The average day is about half of that.
- Has yet to yield a net increase in cross-border traffic; the daily averages cross-border traffic before the West Kowloon Station opened, then after, is essentially the same. There is simply a shift from usage of the slow train service to the faster train service.
2. Convenience could have been fully achieved without illegally leasing Hong Kong land to China.
The immigration facilities arrangement at the West Kowloon Train Station actually has floors that are under mainland China’s complete and total jurisdiction and is treated as Chinese land. Many pundits have erroneously said that similar arrangements exist at the Canadian/U.S. border and in the U.K.
Firstly, the comparison is weak as in both of these examples, the laws applicable in the pre-clearance areas are the laws of the host land, except for immigration laws. For this lame West Kowloon Station arrangement, I blame weak Hong Kong politicians, too eager to please Beijing and get their prized choo-choo train project going, rather than negotiating for a better borders law-enforcement deal. Secondly, there is legitimate concerns in having mainland laws applied in Hong Kong as history has shown us that China has very little regard for the rule-of-law. In that sense, there is most likely less risk for an individual in getting justice for any incident at a U.S or U.K border, than at a Chinese one.
There is very little point arguing about this with CCP sycophants as their faith and/or fear in the system clouds any kind of logical thinking.
2018/04/08/supporters-hong- kongs-joint-checkpoint-plan- not-compare-uscanada- arrangement/
Secondly, it is mostly uncontroversial that the joint checkpoint was unconstitutional as per the Hong Kong Basic Law. It is outrageous that Beijing’s take on this would be considered as they are a biased party in this and, again, one not known for promoting or enforcing rule-of-law.
2018/03/14/joint-checkpoint- deal-no-constitutional- foundation-legislature-no- authority-enact-says-bar- assoc/
hong-kong/law-and-crime/ article/2170842/hong-kong- government-damaged-one- country-two-systems
3. The line to nowhere.
For Hong-Kongers, the highspeed line makes little sense. As a commuter line to nearby cities, it just doesn’t work. Not much time savings to Shenzhen over existing means of transportation, and not practical at all to get to Guangzhou as the station is way out of the business district. All the while being a lot more expensive ride.
Taking all these points into account, it is very clear that this high-speed rail is not meant primarily to serve Hong Kong people but rather, for Beijing to complete its Belt & Roads train network and serve Xinping’s over-dimensioned ego. Does it mean we should reject it? No. A more fundamental question is: why would Hong Kong pay any of this? We shouldn’t! If Hong Kong politicians had any guts or competence, they would have realized that they could have gotten Beijing to pay for most of it.
As a Hong Konger, should you boycott this new high-speed rail? Why would you? You paid dearly for it, use it as much as you can! But at the next elections, vote for a politician that did not rubber-stamp the project. These pro-Beijing apparatchiks are the ones that must be punished.
P.S. It is comical to read the sorry prose of Beijing cheerleader Yonden Lhatoo on the subject: https://www.scmp.com/news/
hong-kong/transport/article/ 2165339/high-speed-rail-saga- exposes-sorry-state-anti-china