Legislators in Hong Kong, half of them chosen by special interests, amid protests that have lasted over a week, have now approved US$8.6 billion of taxpayer money to fund a new high-speed railway to Guangzhou (with three stops in between):
According to Reuters, ‘Public bitterness has grown, however, over the planned razing of a village and rural swathes to make way for the project, along with growing cost estimates that now make the rail link one of the most expensive in the world on a per kilometer basis.’ The decision has been legally made, in an undemocratic way, but it also would certainly be against the will of the people if the issue were put up to a referendum.
Hong Kong taxpayers are mostly concerned about the financial burden they they’ll have to shoulder for this project. There’s already a slower rail link to Guangzhou, and the project puts only one stop in Hong Kong, between Austin and Kowloon City MTR stations. The thing about this terminus location is that it’s pretty much on a little peninsula. There are probably plenty of better places to put a high-speed Hong Kong counterpart of the Gare du Nord in Paris than a place surrounded by water on three sides, to which there isn’t already very easy connexion to other places.
Opposition to those reforms from prodemocracy lawmakers who say they fall short of Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations provoked a rare statement of ‘serious concern’ Friday from Beijing’s State Council, or cabinet. Some of these lawmakers plan to resign en masse, forcing by-elections they say amount to a referendum on Hong Kong’s constitutional future.
Surely the wise government has some higher knowledge of which the masses are unaware, and we shall behold their great foresight in time.
Here’s a map of the proposed rail link overlaid with a map of water depths in Hong Kong, which you can click to enlarge (courtesy of Ming-Yee Tsang; sources: Mass Transit Railway and HK Environmental Protection Department):
Hong Kong’s harbour has few rivals in the world. The high-speed rail terminus is right in front of a peninsula that juts out the western side of Kowloon into the harbour, with access to deep water to the east and to the northwest, with two relatively deep water paths out to sea past Hong Kong Island. This would be a good place in Hong Kong for a naval submarine wharf, with easy access on both sides to deep water and then to the South China Sea.
If at any time in the future the Communist Party and its lackeys so decided, the rail link could later be closed to the public (legally!), and Communist naval forces would gain the use of one of the world’s best harbours. That might be worth considering, Communist Party: are you going for it?