The distance between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, never far to begin with, is about to get even closer.
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link begins operation Sunday, and as its name suggests the purpose is to connect financial and trade hub Hong Kong with the major southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen by high speed train.
Local authorities are touting it as a breakthrough that will slash travel times by at least half, provide direct access to China's massive 25,000-kilometer (15,500-mile) national high speed rail network and spur economic benefits such as increased tourism.
Critics, however, say it comes with a price in excess of the project's monetary cost of nearly $11 billion: further erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy.
"Frankly speaking, the Hong Kong people have paid a lot for this express rail," said local lawmaker Tanya Chan, who calls the project an assault on Hong Kong's jurisdiction. "And I really doubt the economic return of it."
The concern among critics including Chan is the establishment inside Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station of a Mainland Port Area leased to China and staffed by Chinese immigration and customs officers, where Chinese law is in force. Some see it as violating Hong Kong's Basic Law.