[Photo by Li Jianshu / Zhuhai Daily]

Gov’t aiming to finish essential legal works for new Hengqin Port opening in Q1

The Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon indicated today that local authorities are aiming to finish in the first quarter of this year the necessary legislation works that will allow the opening of new Hengqin Port.

In October of last year, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the handover of the Henqgin lotus border checkpoint to Macau jurisdiction. The decision aims to simplify clearance at the two Lotus and Hengqin checkpoints, which currently require separate clearance by mainland and Macau authorities.

Having been appointed the Executive Council Spokesperson, the Secretary spoke today for the first time under his new capacities to announce that the council had concluded its works over the required legislation that will define which areas of the new Henqgin Port will be under the Macau SAR jurisdiction.

The proposal will now be sent to the Legislative Assembly (AL) with the Secretary believing legislative works over this proposal “would be fast”.

The new law proposal defines legal entry or exit routes from under Macau SAR jurisdiction at the new Henqgin checkpoint, with these areas to include the Lotus Flower Bridge, and a future new access bridge connecting the border post with the University of Macau, as well as the space reserved for a future extension of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line.

The Taipa LRT system – which opened in December of last year – is expected to be connected to China’s high-speed rail network in Hengqin.

The new jurisdiction areas will be inaugurated in stages, with MSAR law enforced from the opening day of each one until the expiration of the right of use terms defined under the land lease, with inauguration dates yet to be defined through a Chief Executive dispatch.

The lease term would run from the inauguration date until December 19, 2049 but can be extended with the approval from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

It was believed initially that the new facilities could be concluded by December 20 – the 20th anniversary of Macau’s handover to Chinese administration which was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping – however according to Secretary Andre Cheong apart from the necessary approval of the new law proposed by the Legislative Assembly (AL), some inspection works on the new infrastructure are still required.

“There are still finishing works, inspections, and tests apart from the necessary approval of the law by the AL. After we fulfill all these conditions we will be able to establish a date for the operation start of the new checkpoint,” the Secretary noted.

The exact Henqgin Port jurisdiction areas and its official opening date will then be announced by the Chinese State Council.

The future checkpoint will have the capacity for 222,000 daily crossings once completed, or more than 81 million estimated annual crossings.