Great efforts are being made to filter out any “malignant content and thoughts” inside the Mainland Port Area of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon express rail terminus by Mainland police and customs officers.
This follows Sunday’s commencement of cross-border bullet-train services on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which turns an hour-long trip from downtown Hong Kong to the neighboring city of Shenzhen into a 20-minute hop.
It has been reported that mainland officers have been told to ramp up their checks on passengers and goods to stem the inflow of personnel and information that may pose a threat to the nation.
An earlier instruction from Beijing asked frontline officers to be on high alert to fend off any infiltration now that millions of people cross the country’s borders on any given day.
The Ming Pao Daily said on Tuesday that one of its reporters was stopped by mainland customs officers and led to a room for questioning while clearing his immigration and mainland entry procedures.
The Ming Pao reporter was interrogated by two officers for about 30 minutes, who even checked the footage on his video camera and asked if the newspaper’s coverage of the express rail link to China was “positive in nature.”
The reporter was then told to sign a declaration form for his equipment before he was eventually allowed to board a Shenzhen-bound train.
The form listed a whole plethora of prohibited items, including any photo, video clip, book, leaflet or other publication that could endanger China’s political, social or economic safety.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, known for its pro-democracy editorial stance, also reported that its reporters were followed while covering the rail link’s inauguration ceremony in Shenzhen.
The paper’s photographers were told by unidentified officers at Shenzhen’s Futian Station that they must apply for permission to carry out their work in the mainland.
On Tuesday afternoon, an Asia Times reporter also looked inside West Kowloon’s waiting area where a handcuffed man was being escorted by plainclothes officers to board a Futian-bound train. The officers did not respond to questions about their identity.
One of the major concerns of Hong Kong’s pan-democratic bloc is that the “co-location” arrangement – to lease a big chunk of Hong Kong’s own territory inside the West Kowloon Terminus for the occupation of mainland Chinese law enforcers – will undermine the rights and freedoms of the city’s residents.
Their misgivings are that a Hongkonger might run afoul of the rigid Chinese laws regarding national security or anti-espionage and be arrested by mainland officers inside the massive terminus even though they are not on the mainland.
They say having Chinese police officers stationed in the heart of Hong Kong blurs the boundary between Hong Kong and mainland China.