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Old October 14th, 2015, 02:08 PM   #821
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Old October 16th, 2015, 08:30 PM   #822
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Best in what?
Most fragrant harbor.
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Old October 17th, 2015, 08:16 AM   #823
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Around Nam Cheong Station
Source : www.expressraillink.hk/



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Old October 26th, 2015, 08:43 PM   #824
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Oct 23, 2015
Heads must roll in MTR scandal
Hong Kong Economic Journal

MTR Corp. (00066.HK), a brand that once commanded respect and confidence from a lot of Hongkongers, has been engulfed by scandals in recent years.

Among them are the serious delays and catastrophic cost overruns of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which have not only taken an irreversible toll on the credibility of the MTR but also caused heavy losses to the company’s small shareholders.

To protect their rights, I believe it’s time for the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to step in and launch an all-out investigation into the firm’s blunders to enforce accountability.

In fact as early as May 2013, Apple Daily already revealed there were serious delays in the project, which the MTR immediately denied.

Then, during an internal meeting on July 12, 2013, the top management of the MTR, including its chief executive and chief financial officer, were officially notified that the project was seriously behind schedule and that it was unlikely it could be completed this year.

However, it wasn’t until Nov. 21, 2013, a day before a Legislative Council meeting on the progress of the project, that Jay Walder, the MTR’s then chief executive, told Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung for the first time that the rail line wouldn’t be able to enter service as scheduled.

To make matters worse, at the annual shareholders’ meeting of the MTR in March 2014, Raymond Chien Kuo-fung, the company’s outgoing chairman, told the shareholders that he wouldn’t know whether or not the express rail link would be completed on schedule until April that year.

Unless Chien was so ignorant and ill-informed that he didn’t even know there had been an internal meeting discussing the expected delays eight months earlier, his words would have constituted an act of fraud against his shareholders and potential investors.

Since the MTR Corp. is one of the biggest public companies in Hong Kong, the SFC is duty-bound to look into the matter, which involves enormous public interest, thoroughly and follow all the facts wherever they may lead to find out whether any foul play has been involved in the scandal.

The SFC should also find out whether anyone in the firm’s management should face criminal charges for deliberately misleading its shareholders, because what is at stake here is not only the interest of MTR shareholders but also our city’s hard-earned reputation as an international financial hub.

Apart from the serious delays, the high-speed rail project is now also threatened by what could amount to a staggering HK$20 billion (US$2.58 billion) in cost overruns, and it is very likely that the overspending on this project will keep growing.

The latest figures show that the cost of the project has already risen to HK$85.2 billion this year.

However, as the project is being plagued by further delays, it might end up costing more than HK$100 billion in total, making it the biggest and most expensive white elephant Hong Kong has ever seen.

Worse still, since the project is running out of money, rumour has it that some major contractors are considering bringing the construction work to a halt unilaterally until they make sure they will get paid on time.

Obsessed with getting re-elected, all Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is doing right now is passing the buck to the MTR and putting all the blame for the disastrous delays and cost overruns of the project on the company.

However, since the Hong Kong government owns more than 70 percent of MTR Corp., it is very likely that we the taxpayers will have to foot the bill in the end.

In fact the MTR express rail link saga is a classic example of how poor government oversight and gross negligence of big company management can add up to a long-term disaster for taxpayers.

Now that the Leung administration and the MTR are trying to pass the buck to each other in order to escape responsibility for this public financial catastrophe, I believe Legco must intervene and launch an independent inquiry into the matter to identify the people responsible for this bungle and hold them accountable.

Our lawmakers always claim that they are the guardians of the public interest.

Now is the time for them to prove it.

Translation by Alan Lee
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Old October 27th, 2015, 02:33 PM   #825
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151025_6_5th_Kowloon_Sha_Tin_6695.jpg by Franz Venhaus, on Flickr

151025_6_5th_Kowloon_Sha_Tin_6691.jpg by Franz Venhaus, on Flickr
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Old October 29th, 2015, 05:13 AM   #826
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Time for MTR executives to face the music
Albert Cheng says the corporation's series of conflicts with the public are a distraction from the much larger problems of delays and budget overruns for the express rail link
23 October 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Opened in 1979, the MTR was once the pride of Hong Kong. It was convenient, efficient and reliable. Less than 40 years down the track, the system has degenerated into a major source of public grievance and discontent.

*******************************************************

The government, which holds a 70 per cent stake in the company, entrusted the MTR Corporation to manage the construction of the 26km railway at an initial cost of HK$65 billion. That figure has now been revised to HK$85.3 billion.

Officials have yet to work out with the corporation exactly who should be responsible for what. Small shareholders are likely to have to bear some of the financial consequences. If the government makes up for the funding gap, taxpayers will be penalised for the MTR's failure as project manager.

The Legislative Council is conducting an inquiry into the fiasco. The Securities and Futures Commission should also intervene to ascertain whether the board of the MTR Corporation has been derelict in its duty.

At a shareholder meeting in March 2014, one investor asked whether the high-speed railway would come on stream as scheduled in 2015. Board chairman Raymond Chien Kuo-fung replied that the MTR management would have a better idea the following month. Issued in July 2014, the first report by an independent board committee confirmed that the project director had given a progress report to the CEO and other executives in July 2013, in which he sought consent to defer the opening date from August to December 2015.

Chien was apparently unaware of this major setback. The report says: "The project director reported only for the first time to the executive committee that a 2015 opening date was unachievable on 12 April 2014. Opening of the [rail link] was now expected in 2017. The chief executive officer immediately informed the chairman and the secretary for transport and housing of the delay in the project and began to discuss with each of them a communication strategy in relation to the delay."

Chien was only informed when the delay had become a fait accompli. It is up to the Legco Select Committee and members of the public to judge whether senior executives kept the chairman and his board in the dark, or whether Chien and his board members failed to safeguard shareholders' interests by overseeing the performance of the executives.
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Old November 9th, 2015, 01:50 PM   #827
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Rail chief denies link details not revealed
4 November 2015
The Standard Excerpt

MTR Corp Limited has never intentionally withheld information from the government about the construction of the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, its chief executive said.

Speaking to a select committee at the Legislative Council, Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen said there was only one occasion two years ago that the company could not come up with the information in a timely manner.

Leong said the overall construction is now 74 percent complete and boring the 25-kilometer tunnels linking West Kowloon to the Shenzhen border is 99 percent finished.

``It is expected that the full tunnel breakthrough will be achieved before the end of the year,'' he said yesterday.

Leong said excavation work for the West Kowloon terminus of the Express Rail Link is 95 percent complete.
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Old November 13th, 2015, 09:59 PM   #828
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Slow work checking on the express
The Standard Excerpt
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A consultancy supposed to be monitoring progress of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link has complained of encountering difficulties in getting information from the MTR Corp Ltd.

Representatives from Jacobs China, hired by the government for the checking role, were asked to attend a Legislative Council select committee meeting to explain the background and reasons for the delay in the construction of the Hong Kong section of the line.

Project manager William Ng Siu-kee said the firm sometimes found it difficult to gain information needed to keep up with progress.

"We have a system for requesting information from the MTR as established at the commencement of our work," Ng said.

"We do get information that we ask for except that sometimes it takes longer than expected. For some sensitive documents, like the overall master program, we were not able to get firsthand information."

The master program was important to get an overall picture of progress, he added, but since Jacobs lacks information on some sectors there was no pinpointing what was the source of the delay.

But project director Anthony King said site visits and progress meetings with MTR managers have generally gone well despite occasional difficulties with documents access.

Corporation chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen told the panel earlier this month the link was 74 percent complete and that boring of the 25 kilometers of tunnels linking West Kowloon to the border at Shenzhen is 99 percent finished. He said the project could be finished by the third quarter of 2018.
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Old November 15th, 2015, 05:16 AM   #829
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9/12

Under construction by Yuichi, on Flickr
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Old November 16th, 2015, 06:32 PM   #830
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10/19

Building Building by iKobe!, on Flickr
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Old November 19th, 2015, 07:48 AM   #831
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 04:05 AM   #832
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Justice chief leaves rail options open
The Standard Excerpt
Monday, November 23, 2015

Co-location arrangements for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in the SAR will fulfill the Basic Law and "one country, two systems," insists Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung.

On Saturday, after meeting with mainland officials with Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, Yuen hinted that "to a certain extent" mainland enforcement officials may need to enforce the law in Hong Kong territory.

However, legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said it will destroy the Basic Law and "one country, two systems." He deeply regretted Yuen's speech.

Speaking after casting his vote yesterday, Yuen was asked whether it would be within the law for Beijing to authorize Hong Kong officials to enforce mainland law.

"As I said yesterday, in any co-location arrangement, our plans will fall within the Basic Law and the major principles of `one country, two systems,"' Yuen said.
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Old November 30th, 2015, 03:24 PM   #833
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MTR Signs Agreement with Government on Proposed Arrangements on Additional Funding for Completion of XRL Project

Press Release by MTR


The MTR Corporation has reached an agreement ("XRL Agreement") with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government today (30 November 2015) to demonstrate our commitment to take forward the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link Project (“Project”) which is expected to commence commercial operations in the third quarter of 2018. The XRL Agreement, which includes a proposal to resolve the additional funding for the Project, is subject to approval by MTR’s independent shareholders as well as the approval of the HKSAR Legislative Council.

Key elements of the proposed arrangements include the following:

1. The Government to bear and finance the Project cost up to HK$84.42 billion1 (an increase of up to HK$19.42 billion (Current Cost Increase) from the original Project cost estimate of HK$65 billion);

2. MTR to bear and finance any Project costs exceeding HK$84.42 billion (if any) except in limited circumstances specified in the XRL Agreement;

3. MTR to pay a Special Dividend of HK$4.40 per share in aggregate, in two equal tranches (of HK$2.20 per share in each tranche). These are expected to be paid in the second half of 2016 and the second half of 2017 respectively (total dividend to be paid of approximately HK$25.76 billion);

4. Other terms of the Entrustment Agreements previously entered into relating to the Project between the Government and MTR remain except for amendments required to reflect the XRL Agreement’s proposed arrangements; and

5. The Government reserves its right to seek a determination of MTR’s responsibility (if any) under the Entrustment Agreements for the Current Cost Increase through arbitration, after the commencement of commercial operations on the Project.

"We believe the proposed arrangements provide a pragmatic and viable solution to take the Project forward," Dr Raymond K F Ch'ien, Chairman of MTR Corporation said at the joint news conference held with the Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung to announce the way forward. "The Corporation is aligned with the Government to see through delivery of the Express Rail Link project, which is important in enhancing Hong Kong's connectivity and ensuring our long-term competitiveness. Indeed, the XRL Agreement was reached after detailed discussions with the Government and has taken into account the interests of different stakeholders. Our underwriting of any further cost increase above HK$84.42 billion and the declaration of the Special Dividend, made possible by our healthy financial position, are major steps forward to demonstrate our commitment to this Project. "

The amount of Special Dividend to be received by the Government according to the proposed arrangements is HK$19.51 billion, which is approximately equal to the Current Cost Increase of HK$19.42 billion. The latest cost estimate of HK$84.42 billion is the result of a detailed review conducted by, and discussions between, the Government and MTR Corporation on the HK$85.3 billion cost to complete estimate that the Corporation submitted on 30 June 2015.

"The latest estimate of HK$84.42 billion has been reviewed by independent experts and we are confident that the Express Rail Link can be completed within this amount, given that 74.6% of the overall works have now been finished," said Dr Ch'ien. "We will continue to use our best endeavours to deliver the Express Rail Link Project in accordance with the prevailing Entrustment Agreements and I urge our independent shareholders, Legislative Councillors and members of the public to support the proposed arrangements put forward today."
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Old December 1st, 2015, 03:49 AM   #834
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$19.5B DEAL TO PUT RAIL LINK ON RIGHT LINES
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A deal for the MTR Corporation Ltd to pay a HK$19.51 billion special dividend to the government and agree to bear the extra cost of the Express Rail Link project - capped at HK$84.42 billion - is expected to raise the chances of Legislative Council funding approval.

The move would be a pragmatic solution to gain approval for the additional outlay to meet the amount needed to finish the much-delayed Hong Kong- Shenzhen-Guangzhou Express Rail Link from the Legco Finance Committee.

"If we do not do anything with the government under this political atmosphere, it will be very difficult to obtain the approval from the Legislative Council," said the MTRCL source.

If the project was suspended "it will be an unthinkable scenario," the source said.

Whether that will happen will be tested when the Legco subcommittee on railways will discuss the agreement and construction progress on Friday.

Under the deal, the latest construction cost of the rail link will be HK$84.42 billion, down HK$880 million on the cost announced in late June, but still higher than the original cost of HK$65 billion in 2009.

The link is expected to be finished in the third quarter of 2018. If the cost exceeds HK$84.42 billion, the MTRCL will bear the extra cost. The MTRCL will pay a HK$25.76 billion special dividend of HK$4.40 per share in two tranches (of HK$2.20 per share, in each tranche), to shareholders in the second half of next year and a year after that.

The dividend payout will be conditional on the funding green light from Legco.

Of the HK$25.76 billion, HK$19.51 billion will be paid to the government, which owns a 75.7 percent share. In return, the government will inject up to HK$19.42 billion more into the massive project.
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Old December 1st, 2015, 04:54 AM   #835
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the sooner this project comes online the better .
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Old December 3rd, 2015, 03:40 AM   #836
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Bridge `king' gets rail link top job
The Standard Excerpt
Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The former director of the Civil Engineering Department, Lau Ching-kwong who earned the nickname "King of Bridges" for overseeing the construction of Tsing Ma Bridge has been hired by MTR Corporation Ltd to supervise the much-delayed Express Rail Link project, a source said.

*******************************************************

From 1992-97, Lau supervised the construction of the 2.16-kilometer Tsing Ma Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge with both rail and road traffic.

He also wrote a thesis with former secretary for works Kwong Hon-sang on analyzing the structure of Tsing Ma Bridge and obtained an engineering doctoral degree from Tsinghua University in 1999.

Meanwhile, Ma said MTRCL will pay the government if arbitration finds it to be responsible for the increase in the high-speed rail's budget.

The new agreement the government signed with MTRCL has activated the arbitration process. Ma said the latest management fee the government needs to pay MTRCL has been raised from HK$4.59 billion to HK$6.6 billion.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the government and MTRCL will engage in arbitration upon completion of the project in 2018.

Under the new agreement, the government's responsibility will be capped at HK$84.42 billion.
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Old December 5th, 2015, 05:06 AM   #837
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Nov. 30, 2015
Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt
Hong Kong and Shenzhen should improve transport connections

Hong Kong and Shenzhen are key points on China’s planned “Maritime Silk Road”, and the emergence of east and south axes in the Pearl River Delta bay area will help to realize Beijing’s bigger strategy.

However, the existing transport infrastructure, based on the “stores in front and factories behind” model, is no longer sufficient for the deepening interaction among cities in the region.

In recent years, both Hong Kong and Shenzhen have planned new metropolitan areas in the western Pearl River Delta.

For example, the focus of development in Shenzhen has shifted from its commercial hub in Lo Wu and administration and finance centre in Futian to Qianhai and Houhai, while the financial and technology industries are also moving to the bay area.

The western part of the city is now turning into a new central business district.

Meanwhile, the future development of Hong Kong will center around Lantau Island, which will become a new centre for retail, business, tourism and exhibitions.

Also, the soaring number of passengers commuting between Hong Kong and Shenzhen requires a review of the existing transport system, which focuses on moving goods rather than people.

The “one-hour living zone” — where home, office, shopping and leisure venues are within an hour’s traveling time of one another — has increased cross-border living and consumption among residents of both cities.

Leisure travel and visits to families and friends have increased rapidly in recent years.

Shenzhen Bay Port was designed for daily traffic of 50,000 vehicles and 60,000 passengers.

However, vehicle traffic is around 10,000 a day at present, while passenger traffic has already surged to 160,000.

Emerging cross-border e-commerce will push both cities toward a three-level transport system, which includes a national high-speed railway, regional intercity rail and connecting subway systems.

First, the authorities should push and further improve the high-speed railway network between Hong Kong and Guangdong.

Rail transport is fast, convenient and green.

China’s nationwide high-speed railway network is in the midst of developing a link between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway will shorten the travel time from Hong Kong to Guangzhou to 48 minutes.

The high-speed railway link will bring Hong Kong into China’s ambitious nationwide high-speed railway network.

It will become a key route for Hong Kong to connect with the mainland, as well as connect with the intercity railway network in the Pearl River Delta region.

In addition, as Shenzhen gradually becomes one of China’s key high-speed transport hubs, Hong Kong will also benefit from the six main high-speed railway lines connecting Shenzhen with other parts of the country.

The six lines will be the Shanghai-Shenzhen coastal high-speed railway, the Ganzhou-Shenzhen high-speed railway, the Beijing-Guangzhou-Hong Kong high-speed railway, the Guangzhou-Guiyang-Chongqing high-speed railway, the Guangzhou-Nanning-Kunming high-speed railway and the coastal high-speed railway in western Guangdong.

Also, both cities should strive to create an integrated intercity railway link, which would enhance goods and passenger transport in the region.

Lantau Island will be a gateway and new metropolitan area for Hong Kong after land reclamation and construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The area will become the city’s third major business area, as well as a key hub connecting Hong Kong with Shenzhen.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 05:41 AM   #838
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Dec 5, 2015
High cost of lies and bungling in high-speed-railway Neverland
Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt

It used to be said that, for all its failings, the Hong Kong government at least knew how to handle major infrastructure projects and was good at getting things done.

That claim can no longer be made, not least because of the high-level bungling surrounding the high-speed cross-border rail project, where costs have mushroomed, completion dates scrapped again and again, building flaws exposed and now the government is resorting to sophisticated mendacity to make things look good.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proudly declared on Dec. 1 that the cost of the project to the government had now been capped at HK$84.42 billion (US10.89 billion).

For obvious reasons, he did not mention that this was around a third higher than the financial allocation originally approved by the Legislative Council back in 2010.

Moreover, Leung and his bevy of hapless ministers had the bare-faced cheek to boast about how they had managed to reduce the new price tag from the HK$85.3 billion announced by MTR Corp. (00066.HK) in June.

This has zero to do with better planning but has been achieved by simply cutting some Phase 2 works out of the budget, namely reducing the number of tracks from 15 to 10 and cutting a bit of platform work.

As night follows day, these works will be reinstated once the public eye is busy focusing on some other government ****-up, because this is a classic government way of playing fast and loose with cost estimates.

When escalating figures become embarrassing, items are temporarily removed, then put back later.

In some ways, all this pales in comparison to the shameless claim that the increased funding to be provided by the government (HK$19.42 billion) will be balanced by a HK$19.51 billion dividend payout from MTRC.

More : http://www.ejinsight.com/20151205-hi...way-neverland/
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Old December 6th, 2015, 07:26 PM   #839
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Dec 5, 2015
High cost of lies and bungling in high-speed-railway Neverland
Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt

...
As night follows day, these works will be reinstated once the public eye is busy focusing on some other government ****-up, because this is a classic government way of playing fast and loose with cost estimates.
...

That's a rather scathing critique!
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Old December 8th, 2015, 05:25 AM   #840
hkskyline
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Overseas crossings studied for rail checkpoint
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said the government is studying how overseas border crossings have been set up in order to create a joint immigration checkpoint at the Express Rail Link terminus in West Kowloon.

He said that while the government is looking at overseas examples it will keep in mind that any decision made should be in compliance with the Basic Law and "one country, two systems."

"We are comprehensively studying co-location arrangements," Yuen said yesterday.

"No matter whether it is the US or Canada, or the UK and France, they are all included in our study area. Every place has a different situation and there will be differences in the actual operation.

"We will take reference from foreign countries but at the same time we will make sure that when the co- location arrangement is implemented, it will be in compliance with the Basic Law and the major principle of `one country, two systems."'
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