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Transportation

The High-Speed Train at the Heart of Hong Kong's Political Future

China is building a new train to cut travel time significantly between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. But pro-democracy activists are uneasy about mainland’s intentions.
A Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link train stands in Hong Kong.
A Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link train stands in Hong Kong.Billy H.C. Kwok/Reuters

Nearly 20 years in the making—rife with a series of delays—a high-speed rail linking two of China’s tourist-heavy megacities may finally open as early as next year. It promises to be a “flying dragon,” traveling at speeds of more than 200 miles an hour and cutting the two-hour trip between Hong Kong and Guangzhou down to just 50 minutes. The trains will be equipped with power outlets and wi-fi hotspots, meeting the needs of one of the world’s most connected societies.

With such lofty promises, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou Express Rail Link should be a welcome addition for Hong Kong residents. The city’s current Legislative Council is certainly anticipating it. But pro-democracy activists are uneasy about China’s intentions behind the project.