HK bullet train high-speed to China

HK bullet train high-speed to China

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997, under an agreement that the territory would enjoy "a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs", for 50 years.

"Out of 10 points, I give it nine", said 10-year-old Ng Kwan-lap, who was traveling with his parents on the first train leaving for Shenzhen at 7am. "It's very smooth when it hits speeds of 200 kilometers per hour".

The new rail link will mark the first time Chinese officials can enforce Chinese law in Hong Kong, in parts of the station, and on trains.

The project is part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to to integrate Hong Kong into the world's largest urban hub - the Pearl River Delta, which the Chinese call the Greater Bay Area.

However, Beijing's tight control over the city's politics and a continuing crackdown on politicians calling for greater economy and democratic reforms have spurred worries about an erosion of Hong Kong's remaining autonomy.

Scores of excited passengers straddled a yellow strip across black tiles that highlighted the demarcation line between Hong Kong and China, while others passed through turnstiles surrounded by red, orange and white balloons.

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Passengers cross through immigration and customs checkpoints into the mainland-controlled portion of the station, which includes the platforms and the trains, even though West Kowloon is miles from the border further north.

Connecting Hong Kong to the extensive Chinese national high speed rail network which now totals more than 25 000 km, MTR's Express Rail Link had been officially inaugurated on the previous day with a ceremony at Hong Kong West Kowloon station attended by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam and Governor of Guangdong Province Ma Xingrui.

"Even if it takes some time for people to realise how convenient it is, sooner or later they will".

"This is definitely convenient in terms of time", said one passenger who gave his name as Mr Kwok and who was taking a train to visit his ancestral home in the southern Chinese city of Chaozhou.

Many Hong Kongers were anxious that their social media services wouldn't work in Shenzhen but reported that, for now, they were still in communication with Hong Kong and had somehow escaped the Great Firewall of China which bans western social media services.

A second-class ticket to Shenzhen costs HK$86 ($11), while travelling to Guangzhou costs HK$247 and to Beijing HK$1,237.

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