This is the platform at Lo Wu, which is the end of the East Rail Line of Hong Kong’s MTR. Once you pay your fare you enter the border crossing to China. The first thing you must do to proceed with your journey is go through the HK SAR passport control. As an ID card holder of Hong Kong, I am able to progress through an automated gate at this point and enter the bridge that marks the space between Hong Kong and Mainland China. On the other side, I queue in the foreigner line to show my passport in order to complete the crossing. Hundreds of thousands of people cross this border every day. It is a fascinating place.
Lo Wo was a key transition point in the HK to Canton Railway. Fully completed in 1914, after much delay, trains went through from Tsim Sha Tsui to Canton (Guangzhou), but at Lo Wu, ownership of the railway itself changed. According to Peter Krush, of the Hong Kong Railway Society, in 1949 through travel stopped abruptly. This occurred shortly after Mao Zedung proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China. For the next several years passengers traveling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen through Lo Wo were required to disembark, and cross a rather inauspicious bridge, and then board the train heading to their destination within China. In 2007 the KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway) and the MTR Corporation (Mass Transit Railway, Hong Kong’s equivalent to the London Underground) merged.
In the last several months the Lo Wu border crossing has again become a site of contention and separation. While Hong Kong, after the handover in 1997, became technically part of China, this border remains. Hong Kong operates under the One Country~Two Systems approach (as does Macau). There is a history of food scandals in China, with a recent one concerning baby milk. The baby milk scandals involved infant formula that was tainted by melamine, which killed several infants and made a many more ill. Perhaps because of the retained distinction between China and Hong Kong, there are wide spread perceptions that food, and in particular baby milk, is safer than that which may be purchased in China. Maybe that is the reality. Either way, as a result, mainland Chinese citizens have been crossing the border to buy baby milk in Hong Kong. This has resulted, some say, in shortages of baby milk in the SAR, and in turn caused considerable controversy. The result has been a tightening of border with regard to the flow of goods, if not the flow of people. Where once people transported cartons of baby milk across the border each day, today they are limited to two cans. It is a story, however that is always changing, just as the Lo Wu border crossing is always changing.
For more on this see this account by Peter Krush, of the HK Railway Society.
For more on the infant mild formula scandals see this article published in 2008 in Time Magazine. A recent article from the BBC also recaps the poisoning and subsequent problems that have plagued the Chinese Baby Milk supply can be found here. Several further blogs that focus on the topic are also listed below.
This post is also written in response to wordpress’s weekly photo challenge, which is focused on change. You can find the challenge here.
How to reference this post
Blake, M (2013) Entering Shenzhen. Geofoodie.org https://geofoodie.org/2013/04/13/shenzhen/ 13 April 2013 (Accessed: insert date accessed here)
- Formula Powder “Incident” – The Timeline (therealnewshk.wordpress.com)
- Which Train Goes Where in China (theraillife.wordpress.com)
- The last Hong Kong baby powder supper (wantchinatimes.com)
- OOCL diverts ships from Hong Kong as dockers continue two-week strike (shippingtribune.com)