The West Kowloon Terminus of Hong Kong's express rail link to mainland China. Photo: AFP
The West Kowloon Terminus of Hong Kong's express rail link to mainland China. Photo: AFP

A passenger was reportedly intercepted by Chinese law enforcement officials as he alighted from a train inside the city’s West Kowloon Express Rail Terminus in December.

He was forcibly escorted by officers back to the mainland city of Shenzhen, according to reports that emerged over the weekend.

As reported in the Southern Metropolis Daily, a mainland newspaper, the man was stopped by mainland agents while clearing immigration procedures in the station’s mainland port area on December 13. The arrestee was said to have failed to comply with a court ruling and was therefore restricted from leaving the mainland.

The newspaper said court officials then traveled to the station from Shenzhen and escorted him back for further investigation.

The report did not say what case the man was involved in, but claimed it has since been resolved, stressing that no one can make use of the convenience offered by the new cross-boundary high-speed rail line to escape justice.

In another case that took place in October shortly after the station and the rail link were commissioned, a Hong Kong resident was arrested in a similar fashion before he could leave the mainland port area inside the station. He reportedly questioned the authority of mainland officers and even yelled “I’m in Hong Kong, you can’t arrest me”, before being dragged away by court bailiffs.

The Hong Kong man also fell foul of mainland officers because he had failed to obey a court ruling.

The boundary between the Hong Kong Port Area and the mainland Chinese side inside the West Kowloon Terminus. Photo: Asia Times

Chinese immigration, customs and public security officers are posted inside the mainland port area of the West Kowloon station, according to a contentious “co-location” arrangement agreed upon by the Hong Kong and mainland authorities in which a part of the station is leased to the mainland, and where mainland laws apply.

The Hong Kong government insists that having mainland and Hong Kong officers under one ceiling inside the station will benefit cross-boundary passengers taking the express rail link. However the city’s opposition argue such “co-location” contravenes the “one country, two systems” promised by Beijing and undermines the city’s autonomy and liberty as a separate jurisdiction where mainland officers have no legal authority.

When asked to comment on the two arrests, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said the mainland officers were carrying out civil, not criminal, court orders, and therefore they were not required to notify the Hong Kong government of their actions.

Under an agreement Hong Kong signed with the mainland in 2017, the governments of the two sides must notify each other if criminal arrests or prosecutions are being made against residents of the other side.

Asked whether it was told about the two cases, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said that the mainland officers had the judicial power to take such actions.

But lawmakers from the opposition camp said the latest incidents showed exactly why people of Hong Kong had no confidence in the co-location arrangement.

Read more: China police set up shop in heart of HK’s express rail link

Glitches mar first day of HK’s express rail link to China

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