Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said the government has been doing its best to make the co-location deal between Hong Kong and mainland China as transparent as possible.

He dismissed criticism that the co-location arrangement is a “black box” operation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Chan’s defense of the controversial plan came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Ma Xingrui, governor of Guangdong province, signed a co-operation arrangement in Hong Kong on Saturday on the establishment of the port at the West Kowloon terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

It marked the start of the “three-step process” designed to implement the plan.

The three steps include reaching a co-operation arrangement between Hong Kong and Beijing, which has been completed, gaining approval and endorsement from the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), which is scheduled to happen next month, and legislating the proposal in Hong Kong.

However, some lawmakers and groups are criticizing the government for lack of public consultation and failing to reveal details of the deal.

The co-location plan allows part of the terminus to be under the jurisdiction of mainland border control officials after the rail link begins operations in the third quarter of next year. Some have described it as “ceding land” to China.

Chan said the government explained the proposed framework of the plan to the Legislative Council immediately after an initial agreement between Hong Kong and Beijing was reached.

Explanations were also made to citizens and groups on a number of occasions, Chan said.

The government did not provide the complete details of the co-operation arrangement signed on Saturday and only made public eight key points.

Lam said after the signing ceremony that the government will only disclose the full text of the arrangement for public information after the NPCSC approves and endorses it.

She expressed hope that the legislative process will begin in February next year

During a protest organized by the Co-location Concern Group outside Government House on Saturday, Tanya Chan Suk-chong, convenor of the group, called the signing of the arrangement tantamount to selling out Hong Kong because there was no public consultation, no details and no legal basis for the move.

The Civic Party lawmaker demanded the government immediately make public details of the arrangement to allow discussions by Legco and the public.

Barrister Chris Ng Chung-luen, a spokesperson for the Progressive Lawyers Group, said Hong Kong courts might refuse to accept any challenge against the plan once it is approved and endorsed by the NPCSC, to the detriment of ”one country, two systems”.

Article originally appeared in EJ Inight on 20 November 2017