The second chapter investigates the “upstream” check-in system that allows passengers in Mainland China to fly through Hong Kong's airport without going through customs and immigration procedures. These facilities serve travelers whose cross-border movement is limited by their income or citizenship, such as tourists or traders from Africa and the Middle East. At the upstream terminal in China, travelers print their boarding pass and proceed through emigration. A sealed ferry then takes them across the border to Hong Kong, where they are transferred to an underground train that takes them to their departure gate. Isolated from other passenger flows, these “upstream” travelers technically never enter Hong Kong. Mapping the movement of passengers between Mainland China and the airport, this chapter documents the insertion of aviation infrastructure into marginal neighborhoods and unspectacular structures. It analyzes the aesthetics of transborder infrastructure in order to interpret broader discrepancies in global migration regimes in the political and economic framework of the Pearl River Delta.
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