‘Ghost’ island off the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

On my most recent visit to Hong Kong I went on a boat trip off Lantau Island, and found something bizarre on the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge – a mysterious looking white building atop an artificial island in the middle of the sea, with zero signs of life to be found. So what is it?

Entrance to the immersed tube tunnel on the Hong Kong end of the bridge

The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge is a 55 kilometres long bridge–tunnel connecting Hong Kong to China, with two artificial islands in the middle marking the transition between bridge and a 6.7-km immersed tube tunnel beneath the main shipping channel.

Looking west to the artificial islands, the immersed tube tunnel that links them, and the Qingzhou Channel Bridge

And this is the mysterious looking white building atop the eastern artificial island, at the Hong Kong side of the tunnel.

Massive structure built atop the Hong Kong end of the immersed tube tunnel

Building it

I first saw the artificial island back in November 2013, by which point land reclamation was complete, but the tunnel and bridge either side were still incomplete.

Tung Chung end of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

With more construction photos to be found on the Highways Department project website.

June 2017 – construction reaches fourth floor.

August 2017 – roof completed.

October 2017 – time for the roof.

November 2017 – cranes now on the way down.

And finally May 2018 – east artificial island completed.

But what is inside

Road tunnels often have large buildings atop the portal, to house electrical substations, equipment rooms and ventilation fans.

Northbound at the Sha Tin Heights tunnel

In the case of the western artificial island, a traffic control and surveillance centre has been setup.

But the east artificial island, there just seems to be a lot of CCTV cameras.

But these artists impressions suggest bigger things are at hand.

The lights are on.

And plenty of people seem to be enjoying the view.

Enter the tourists

Even before opening the new bridge is quite popular with tourists – but mainly from Mainland China.

Popularity of Zhuhai bridge trips highlights gap between Hong Kong and mainland tourists
Su Xinqi
20 January 2018

With the cross-border bridge linking Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai set to open for traffic this year, some mainland-based tour operators have stolen a march by offering packages for travellers to see the infrastructure from afar. But there was a stark contrast on either side of the border in the popularity of the tours – given a warm welcome by those in the north and the cold shoulder in Hong Kong.

Over the last two months of 2017, Hong Kong-based China Travel Service (CTS) organised just 10 groups to join a hot springs tour which included a distant sea view of the bridge. But in December alone, Guangzhou-based agency Guangzhilv had 882 visitors sign up for tours that included boat trips to view the bridge.

The same imbalance of tourist traffic was seen after the bridge opened.

It has been reported that upon the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) opening to traffic on the 24th of last month, a large number of tourists entering the territory via HZMB have flocked to Tung Chung, and the daily lives of the residents there have been greatly affected as a result. F

or example, daily commodities were snapped up and sold out, restaurants experienced an overflow of customers, and a large number of tourists waiting at Tung Chung Bus Terminus for buses heading for the Hong Kong Port caused obstruction to passageways and noise nuisances.

Despite the introduction of a number of tourist diversion measures as announced by the Government on the 9th of this month, the situation has not been significantly improved.

Turns out some visitors are only interested in seeing the bridge.

Based on the experience gained from the past few weekends, around one-fifth of visitors arriving at Hong Kong through the HZMB BCF did not leave the BCF to visit other districts in Hong Kong by taking local public transportation. This indicates that many of the visitors arriving at Hong Kong through the HZMB BCF mainly intended to visit the HZMB itself and might not be keen to enter Hong Kong.

In addition, the Government is arranging for the setting up of temporary small-scale shops or booths in the HZMB’s BCF to allow travellers to buy souvenirs therein. We are also exploring the introduction of food trucks to serve travellers near the BCF and in Sunny Bay.

Which leads us back to the eastern artificial island.

The Government is exploring with relevant Mainland authorities the opening of the HZMB’s East Artificial Island to the aforementioned group tourists, so as to allow such tourists to visit the HZMB and return to Zhuhai or Macao from the East Artificial Island without crossing the border of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

In March 2019 China Daily addressed some possible issues with the plan.

Greater Bay Area has great potential as tourism hub
He Shusi
23 March 2019

Diverse and appealing tourist attractions across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will make the region an attractive destination for international travelers, says Lo Sui-on, director of China Travel Service (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress.

In his NPC submission this year, Lo said the newly opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge should be fully utilized. One of the highlights is the planned tourism center at the east artificial island of the 55-kilometer HZMB – near the Hong Kong side. It should be open to the public soon, Lo said.

The 100,000-square-meter eastern island is located in mainland waters but very close to Hong Kong International Airport. According to the bridge operator, the HZMB Authority, it has buildings reserved for tourism facilities. These include a parking lot, a canteen, shops and a sightseeing platform.

However, the island is a grey area in terms of immigration and customs control. It is located in between checkpoints at the two ends. The relevant authorities are still studying its feasibility, the HZMB Authority said.

“As some travelers just want to visit the bridge, there should be a ‘green channel’ for them, allowing them to visit the east island without crossing the boundary,” Lo said.

But that didn’t stop expressions of interest being invited April 2019.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge seeks world-class tourist attraction to alleviate Chinese tourist congestion
He Huifeng
26 April 2019

Plans are underway to turn one of the artificial islands that makes up the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge into a world-class tourist attraction in an attempt to address complaints about the US$15.3 billion project.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority has invited entertainment companies to bid for the overall planning and conceptual design of a tourism development and supporting facilities on the eastern artificial island of the bridge close to Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, according to a notice posted on its official website.

The operator is stepping up its effort to address complaints over insufficient traffic that could effect the bridge’s commercial viability as well as increased tensions between visitors and Hong Kong residents due to congestion close to the Hong Kong checkpoint.

A staff member with the project’s bidding agent, who refused to give her name, said the operator is open for any concept or style for the project, and that it does not have a preconceived idea of what the island attraction should be.

“They want the bridge [tourist project] to be a world-class brand to attract global visitors,” she said.

Chinese tourists have shown great enthusiasm for the colossal structure as a symbol of China’s engineering prowess and have flocked in large numbers, although this had led to the tensions with local residents of Tung Chung on Lantau Island in Hong Kong who have complained about being inundated by mainland Chinese visitors.

The new plan, for which bidders have until April 30 to complete the application procedure and summit documentation ahead of a field trip and a bidding briefing on May 10, would mean Chinese tourists would not need to enter the city itself.

I guess that explains what the mysterious building!

Footnote: how big are the artificial islands

I found this badly translated page detailing the size of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge artificial islands:

The east artificial island is 1563 meters from the Tonggu Channel centreline and it is in oval shape, 625 meters long and 225 meters wide, covering an area of 103,000 square meters.

The west artificial island is 2018 meters from the Lingding Channel (Lingdingyang / 伶仃洋) centreline. It is also in oval shape, 625 meters long and 185 meters wide, covering an area of 98,000 square meters.

The Zhuhai-Macao Ports have built on a newly-filled artificial island, and the island is 950 meters wide from west to east, 1930 meters long from north to west, covering an area of 2,170,000 square meters.

Hong Kong Port is also on an artificial island with an area of 1300,000 square meters, close to Hong Kong International Airport.

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Crossing the border on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge connects Hong Kong to Mainland China – but where does the bridge cross from the waters of Hong Kong into China’s Guangdong Province, and what marks it?

Entrance to the immersed tube tunnel on the Hong Kong end of the bridge

So where is the border?

From a legal perspective people cross the border at the “Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities“, located on a 150 hectare artificial island reclaimed from the open waters off the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport.

Which means the 12 kilometre long road between the border crossing and the geographic border itself is a “sterile” area – just like an airport terminal.

But the geographic border is hard to spot once the bridge itself – you need to look out for the ‘Guangdong Boundary’ sign just before entering the underwater tunnel.

Playing spot the difference

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is divided into two sections:

  • HZMB Main Bridge running 29.6 km through Mainland Chinese waters, with three distinctive spans crossing shipping channels, and a 6.7 km immersed tube tunnel landing at two artificial islands, and
  • Hong Kong Link Road running 12 kilometres along viaducts, tunnels, and at-grade roads between the HZMB Main Bridge at the HKSAR boundary and the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facility.

The Hong Kong SAR border is marked on this Highways Department diagram of the bridge.

Highways Department diagram

The two sections of the bridge were constructed under separate contracts – one in Hong Kong, the other in China. This meant that the eastern side of the HZMB Main Bridge immersed tube tunnel included a short section of viaduct as far as the border.

Tung Chung end of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

The Hong Kong Link Road reached this short stub on 27 January 2017 and a ceremony was held on the Hong Kong side of the border, in front of an interesting feature – a big steel fence preventing access to the Mainland China side!

Highways Department photo

This border fence remained in place while the finishing touches were applied to the bridge.

Highways Department photo, June 2018

On 19 October 2018 the Hong Kong media were taken on a tour of the bridge as far as the border fence.

Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The fence highlights the differences of road design between the two sides.

  • bridge parapets change style,
  • Chinese-style expressway destination signs to one side,
  • ‘Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Hong Kong Link Road’ street sign,
  • ‘0.0 km W’ distance marker sign, and
  • ‘Hong Kong’ destinations painted on each lane.

Down at water level the border is also visible – the left pier is in Mainland China waters and the pier to the right is in Hong Kong.

Border of Hong Kong and Mainland China on the HZMB

The different styles of bridge parapet and pier design are visible from this angle, as well as a curious design feature – the bridge span from the Chinese side crosses over the border, where there is an expansion gap atop ‘Pier 0’ of the Hong Kong Link Road.

Due to the close proximity of the two countries, the Hong Kong Police Force keep a patrol boat in the area.

Hong Kong Police Force boat off the HMZB, patrolling the maritime border with Mainland China

Did you notice the fisherman sitting atop the pier on the Hong Kong site?

More photos

More photos by Justin Chin/Bloomberg: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

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Australia and the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests

In June 2019 protests broke out over Hong Kong, opposing legislation proposed by the government of Hong Kong, which would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China. Here is a quick look at how the protests have spread to Australia.

Messages cover the Lennon Wall in Melbourne (25 July 2019)

Lennon Wall in Melbourne

In July Australian-based Chinese political cartoonist, artist and rights activist Badiucao (巴丢草) kicked off a Lennon Wall in Hosier Lane in Melbourne.

And got a mention in local newspaper The AgePost-it protest in support of Hong Kong backlash over extradition plan:

Hundreds of post-it notes fluttered over the graffiti on Hosier Lane in central Melbourne on Saturday in a message of support to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The notes are part of an art installation – Lennon Wall for Hong Kong, by Chinese-Australian artist and political dissident Badiucao – depicting Chinese leader Xi Xingping and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam.

Badiucao invited people in Melbourne to leave messages of solidarity over his mural, similar to the “Lennon walls” – inspired by a Czech wall devoted to the late Beatles frontman John Lennon – that have sprung up across Hong Kong.

“I see Melbourne as my second home town, I really love this city and I want to contribute to it,” Badiucao said before Saturday’s event.

“I think Hosier Lane is a particularly good place, it is the pearl on the crown of Melbourne’s street art scene, it is also a place where I know tonnes of Chinese tourists will come every day.”

“Every photo on Instagram and social media will be the speaker for the Hong Kong people,”Badiucao said. Maybe, ultimately, it will help them in the long term as well. That is why I am calling on every Melbourne citizen to join me.

“I think it’s also a very beautiful thing to collect a message in a physical space. For people to exchange ideas. The form itself is very beautiful with all of the colours.”

The wall was soon covered with messages of support.

Photographing the Lennon Wall in Melbourne (22 July 2019)

Until it was slowly covered by the street art that Hosier Lane is known for.

Messages cover the Lennon Wall in Melbourne (25 July 2019)

Australian whingers

On August 12 an Australian tourist at Hong Kong Airport hit the news after attacking protesters for delaying his flight.

news.com.au covered the story – ‘He’s trash’: Australian man slammed over his tirade at Hong Kong protesters:

A stranded Australian tourist in Hong Kong has been blasted after he was filmed clashing with pro-democracy protesters and telling them to “get a job” during a massive airport demonstration yesterday.

The man was filmed getting into a heated confrontation with a group of demonstrators who stormed Hong Kong’s airport last night, disrupting operations and freezing flights.

The man, who was not able to board his flight in the chaos, told the group that “the sooner Hong Kong actually becomes a part of mainland China, the better”.

The group of protesters were filmed attempting to reason with the man, explaining that they were fighting for freedom and independence from the Chinese government.

With many Aussies taking the piss.

Fake protest permits

August 14 saw a fake permit letter for a “Support One China Principle” protest in Melbourne appear.

With ABC News investigating further – Pro-China rally in Melbourne condemning Hong Kong protests delayed over fake council permit

A pro-China rally planned for Saturday in Melbourne to condemn the clashes in Hong Kong has been postponed after a letter claiming to be an event permit from the Melbourne City Council was confirmed to be fake.

A well-known local Chinese media outlet, Australian Red Scarf, first announced the pro-Beijing protests in Melbourne on their WeChat account last Friday, accompanied by an image of a letter saying the council approved the “Support One China Principle” event to be held at the State Library in Melbourne.

On Wednesday, the ABC approached the Melbourne City Council about the letter — which claimed the council approved the pro-China rally — who then issued a statement on Twitter announcing that the letter was “fake”.

“The City of Melbourne does not issue permits for protests or demonstrations,” the statement read.

“However, we encourage anyone planning an assembly, demonstration or rally to let Victoria Police and the City of Melbourne know so that we can plan for any effects on parks, public places, streets and footpaths and notify affected businesses and services.

Fake Chinese police cars

By August 19 fake Chinese police cars were spotted at pro-Hong Kong rallies in Perth and Adelaide.

With ABC News picking up the story:

Authorities are investigating after fake Chinese police cars were spotted in Adelaide and Perth amid pro-Hong Kong demonstrations across Australia, but the owner of one of the cars has told police it was a “joke”.

In South Australia photos have surfaced of a car — bearing Chinese characters — parked at various spots around Adelaide’s CBD.

SA Police told the ABC it was aware of the vehicle’s current location and was investigating if it has been involved in any offences.

Police in Western Australia also confirmed they had received reports of a car with Chinese police markings.

“WA Police spoke to the driver of the vehicle who stated he purchased the decals online,” a spokesperson said.

And a 2017 footnote

Badiucao’s Lennon Wall isn’t his first public work in Melbourne – here is one from July 2017:

As well as a shrine for the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

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Hong Kong high speed rail and the People’s Liberation Army

In 2016 an interesting conspiracy theory emerged in Hong Kong – would the new high speed rail link to Mainland China be used by the People’s Liberation Army to invade the Special Administrative Region?

The People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison arrived in 1997, and has approximately 5,000 personnel posted to the city.

PLA soldier guarding Shek Kong Camp, Hong Kong

On February 20 Hong Kong politician and social activist Lee Cheuk-yan asked about military use of the new railway at a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.

Finance Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 34th meeting
Saturday, 20 February 2016, at 11:10 am

Use of XRL for military purpose

Mr Lee Cheuk-yan enquired whether the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison (“HK Garrison”) had the right to commandeer XRL for military purpose, and whether there was any passageway in the XRL’s Shek Kong Depot connecting to the Shek Kong Barracks of the HK Garrison. He opined that the authorities should provide a paper to explain the relationship between the Garrison Law and XRL.

Secretary for Transport and Housing (“STH”) advised that XRL was a civil railway and there was no passageway in the Shek Kong Depot connecting to the Shek Kong Barracks of the HK Garrison. He reiterated that the Garrison Law had clearly regulated the activities of the HK Garrison in Hong Kong.

At the same time, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily picked up on the theories:

High speed rail site at Shek Kong allegedly capable of transporting weapons
February 25, 2016

Another 「政治炸彈」(political bomb) of the high-speed rail is the Shek Kong military camp. The emergency emergency rescue station for the high-speed rail is located in Choi Yuen Tsuen next door to the Shek Kong military camp. After the completion of the high-speed railway, the Neo Democrats has questioned that this station can be used both for transporting troops and transporting weapons. Some mainland media also refer to the high-speed railway track as “military and civilian use.”

The Neo Democrats’ Tam Hoi Pong pointed out that the current Shek Kong military camp is used by the People’s Liberation Army. From the aerial camera, there are small roads connected to the military camp on the high-speed rail site, while the small road is less than 20 meters away from the military camp. The mainland military is used to use high-speed rail for military purposes.

The Neo Democrats said that it would raise relevant issues at the Finance Committee meeting of the Legislative Council, and oppose the additional funding of the high-speed rail. It does not agree to use the money of Hong Kong people to build a political bomb.

After which Gary Fan raised the question a second time.

Finance Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 38th meeting
Friday, 26 February 2016, at 6:30 pm

Alleged Military Use of the XRL Project

Mr Gary Fan claimed that there was a linking rail at the Shek Kong train depot near the Shek Kong barracks and the rail seemingly led to the Shek Kong barracks. He queried whether or not XRL would be requisitioned by the People’s Liberation Army for military uses.

Secretary for Transport and Housing (“STH”) padvised that the Administration had stressed many times that XRL was purely a transport infrastructure for civilian use and there was no consideration for military use. Dr Philco Wong, Projects Director, MTR Corporation Limited added that the road link did not go to the Shek Kong barracks but to the power distribution station for the purpose of maintenance of facilities. The power distribution station and the Shek Kong barracks were separated by iron wires.

The story gained momentum, as seen in this piece published by 本土新聞Local Press on March 4:

The People’s Liberation Army newspaper acknowledged that high-speed rail is a military infrastructure used as a fast transporter

“Now News” quoted the “People’s Liberation Army Daily” report that when the high-speed rail was built, there were absolutely military considerations to quickly transport troops. In the event of a war, the high-speed rail will become a means of transport for soldiers, light armies, artillery and other equipment. The report can be described as the tail pillow after the ghost shot, confirming the reason why the Hong Kong people speculated that the high-speed rail Hong Kong section must be built, not rational economic development, but because of irrational military rule.

Which led to the official Hong Kong Government News Network to publish a Facebook post on March 9 to deny the rumours.

Roughly translated:

The Transport and Housing Bureau has clarified the inaccurate online claims and rumours and that there is no basis for any statement that the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link may be related to military use.

But many Hong Kong people didn’t believe the denial, as detailed in this Stand News 立場新聞 piece.

High-speed rail can be personnel carriers? The Information Services Department said that there is no basis to the netizens post on the People’s Daily.
March 9, 2016

The Government News Network Facebook page uploaded a picture of a high-speed rail at 11 o’clock last night. The picture quoted the Housing Authority as saying that “the planning, design and construction of the high-speed rail section of Hong Kong is fully for civilian use and provides convenient cross-boundary transport services for passengers”

However, as soon as this post came out, the netizen immediately posted a message attached to the mainland official media “People’s Network” originally printed in the “People Liberation Army Daily” article entitled “Military transport security close to actual combat: to create a high-speed rail era “steel transport line”” report link The article includes “to avoid duplication of construction, the military agency focused on implementing the concept of military-civilian integration in the top-level design, embedding military functions in the construction of high-speed rail.” and other content to refute the government’s clarification.

The Information Services Department did not respond to the message, but many netizens commented on the government’s escort. Some people pointed out that “there is no need to use the railway. , waterways, aviation, the words are coming soon, and the People’s Liberation Army is protecting Hong Kong, transporting the People’s Liberation Army, and transporting the US Army or the Japanese Army!”

So could China use the high-speed railway to invade Hong Kong?

People’s Liberation Army deployments by high-speed train

China’s high-speed rail network has been available for the use of the People’s Liberation Army for some years.

People's Liberation Army 8X8 wheeled self-propelled gun loaded on a military train

With even Hong Kong’s Now News covering it when first publicised back in 2012.

The People’s Liberation Army refers to the rapid response of high-speed rail
May 25, 2012

The speed of development of high-speed rail in the Mainland has slowed down slightly since the Wenzhou train accident last year. However, many routes such as the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway are still open to traffic. It is still convenient for many people. The People’s Liberation Army disclosed for the first time that the high-speed rail was infiltrated with various military elements. Can be used to respond quickly.

The 1,318-kilometer-long Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway was opened to traffic last year, greatly shortening the transportation time between Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanghai, etc., between the four provinces and three cities. This convenience is not only convenient for the people, the People’s Liberation Army Daily disclosed for the first time, the military is correct. Utilizing the advantages of high-speed rail, quick and convenient, the high-speed rail is positioned as an important way of strategic transportation in the future. Once a war occurs, the PLA can respond quickly according to the high railway line.

Traditionally, the military will use ordinary railway lines to transport heavy weapons such as tanks and missiles;

The high-speed rail is responsible for transporting soldiers, as well as light weapons such as rifles and recoilless guns.

The report also revealed that the national high-speed rail system has been integrated into military and civilian elements during design. In a short period of time, the civilian railway station can be turned into a military service, which greatly shortens the reaction time of the military. For example, in the expansion project of Nanjing Station, it used the war. The standard design allows the gate to be opened, allowing the soldiers to get on the platform as soon as possible.

The high-speed rail dispatching system is also transported to the military. The status of each train on the high-speed rail line is clear at the military transport dispatching center. If the PLA officers and soldiers enter the command in the system, they can control the high-speed rail system within ten minutes and join the military train on the line.

The People’s Liberation Army has also developed a gun rack that can be placed in the car box for the high-speed trains, the indoor space is larger than the traditional trains, and the structure is stable.

Because the doors on both sides of the high-speed rail can be opened at the same time, the military has developed a fast-moving and arranging array to improve the efficiency of getting on the train by 50%. So far, the high-speed rail has sent more than 43,000 soldiers to the destination on time.

At the beginning of May, the Nanjing Military Region tried to arrange a group of soldiers carrying light weapons to reach the destination by high-speed train. The soldiers could participate in the battle as soon as they arrived, increasing the PLA’s chances of winning.

And the China News Service ran a puff piece on a PLA training exercise in 2015.

High-speed rail transport: hundreds of troops from 52 minutes to 210 kilometers away from the “battlefield”
September 09, 2015
People’s Liberation Army Daily
Reporter Dai Wei, special correspondent Gao Jie

The military station of the Shanghai Railway Bureau is close to actual combat to improve the railway military transport support capability

In the midsummer season, a high-speed rail station in northern Jiangsu, a light-loaded force of hundreds of people, quickly boarded a high-speed rail train to a certain place in eastern Fujian. After 52 minutes, the light-loaded troops appeared in the “battlefield” 210 kilometers away, just like the gods and soldiers. Wang Pengyu, director of the Military Affairs Office of the Shanghai Railway Bureau, told the reporter: “‘China Speed’ has boosted the speed of military transport and achieved a rapid arrival in the battlefield.”

The soldiers are very fast. At present, the troops are frequently stationed in the field and non-war military operations. How to quickly and accurately transport the troops and personnel to each “battlefield” has become an urgent issue facing the party committee of the military representative office. It coincides with the opportunity of the great revolution and great development of the railway. The party committee of the military representative office has identified a rationale: “The railway is speeding up, and the military transportation guarantee must be closer to the actual speed!”

In order to avoid duplication of construction, the military agency focused on implementing the concept of military-civilian integration in the top-level design, embedding military functions in the construction of high-speed rail. At the beginning of the construction of the high-speed rail, they proposed the construction of the military service supporting system and sent engineering personnel to participate in the design of the high-speed rail construction plan. From platform construction to command and dispatch, more than 30 types of high-speed rail supporting facilities have been used by the military and civilians. It is reported that they have coordinated the construction plan of a station three times, and realized that as long as the connection port is opened during the war, several channels can directly reach the platform.

The military transportation dispatching command center of the military representative office also introduced the TIS transportation information system of the Shanghai Railway Bureau high-speed railway, and added the military dispatching function to realize the dual-use military and civilian use. The reporter opened the military dispatching program, and the status of each train on the high-speed rail line in the area of ​​the railway, the vacant line and the adjustable dialing skin can be seen at a glance, and the transmission scheme can be automatically generated by simply inputting a command.

The military transport is a “pioneer” and the guarantee is to win. There are 11 high-speed railways such as Beijing-Shanghai and Nanjing-Hangzhou in the Shanghai Railway Bureau, with a total mileage of more than 2,600 kilometers, which provides a solid foundation for the speed of military transportation. At the beginning of 2014, the military representative office received an emergency military oil transportation mission, requiring tons of oil to be transported on the passenger dedicated line. They creatively used the nighttime Hanging-line transportation period, and adopted fixed-line locomotives, fixed lines, and fixed-line dedicated line pick-up operations. For the first time, military freight trains were opened on the passenger-dedicated lines, creating a precedent for the entire army. For the first time, the military representative office organized the door-to-door express transportation of military materials at the passenger station. For the first time, it temporarily added high-speed trains to organize the entire line of transportation. This series of active explorations effectively tapped the potential of the “steel transportation line” and opened up Military transportation is a new way.

And what about Hong Kong

The Shek Kong stabling sidings and emergency rescue station are a massive complex, built to service to high-speed trains that use the new line.

While the emergency rescue station was built for trains to discharge passengers to another train in the event of mechanical problems, or as an evacuation path in case of fire.

And it’s big – three tracks and two island platforms, 430 metres long to service a full 16 carriage train, and five sets of staircases back to the surface.

So if you wanted to transport People’s Liberation Army troops into Hong Kong quickly, the ’emergency rescue station’ at Shek Kong beats anything with rubber tyres.

People’s Liberation Army enter Hong Kong following the 1997 handover


And before I wrote this piece, I though the joint customs and immigration checkpoint at the West Kowloon Terminus was enough of a political football!

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Charts and plans for Kai Tak Airport

Kai Tak Airport was once the international airport for Hong Kong, with the single runway and eight jetbridges somehow handing 30 million passengers and 1.5 million tonnes of freight per year, before it was replaced by the current Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998. This diagram from 1988 shows how constrained the terminal building was.

Kai Tak Airport Terminal Floor Plan - Arrivals
Diagram via Joseph K.K. Lee

This aerodrome chart dated 1996 shows how the rest of the airport was no different.

With this aircraft parking and docking chart from the same period showing how the 63 aircraft parking bays were squeezed into every available piece of space.


The Civil Aviation Department has some background on the diagrams found above:

Upon the completion of Stage 4 development of the passenger terminal building in 1981, a study of the capacity of various facilities in the passenger terminal building revealed the need for the further expansion of the terminal to cope with air traffic forecast in the early 90s. The Stage 5 development of the terminal was commenced in 1984 and completed in 1988, increasing the design capacity to 18 million passengers per annum by adding terminal parking facilities, check – in counters and baggage reclaim units.

In 1987, to cater for the strong increase in air traffic at Kai Tak during its remaining life before the availability of the replacement airport, another series of expansion and improvement projects initiated. In 1991, Terminal 2 of the Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal was commissioned providing an annual air cargo handling capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum. In 1992, the expansion of the East Apron which provided 4 additional parking bays for B747 – 400 aircraft and a general aviation aircraft parking area were completed. Finally, in 1994 an expansion of the South Apron provided 11 more parking bays for B747 aircraft. The design capacity of the airport reached 24 million passengers per annum.

In 1996, the Kai Tak Airport reached an important milestone when it handled 29.5 million international passengers and 1.56 million tonnes of international cargo making it the third busiest Airport in the world for international passengers and first in the world for international cargo throughput in the world.


The terminal diagrams dated 1988 were uploaded by Joseph K.K. Lee.

The charts dated 1996 were obtained by a Flight Sim airport designer via email from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department.

A cleaner version of these charts can be found in the unofficial information package compiled by the IVAO Hong Kong Division – in particular the aircraft parking and docking chart.

Charts for the current Hong Kong International Airport can be found in the Aeronautical Information Publication managed by the Hong Kong Aeronautical Information Services.

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