Hong Kong is butting up against its neighbouring Shenzhen with increasing frequency and seriousness, the latest issue being friction over how the city's plans for a third runway for its busy airport will impinge on Shenzhen's desire to boost traffic at its western port terminals.
According to local media reports, the issue revolves around a height restriction on shipping in the approach channels to ports such Chiwan and Shekou in the western part of the Pearl River Delta. The South China Morning Post reported that it had seen documents in which Hong Kong's airport authorities propose to extend marine restrictions in place around the existing runways into Shenzhen waters to accommodate the third runway.
This would prevent vessels with an air draft of more than 53m from using the Lunggu West Fairway, the most direct of the three routes into the western Shenzhen port terminals, included in the list of barred vessels would be the new mega-container ships, which would not be able to access western Shenzhen ports without a big detour through the less direct Tunggu Channel, or use Hong Kong's busy Ma Wan Channel.
China Merchant Holdings (International), the largest shareholder of Chiwan and Shekou ports, was quoted as saying that such a restriction would have a "serious impact" on Lunggu West Channel's use.
The report added that the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments are understood to be in talks over a solution, but cited sources as saying the initial proposals from Hong Kong do not address long-term sea traffic demands and may compromise the competitiveness of port facilities in western Shenzhen.