Hong Kong hotel made into new national security office by Chin
HONG KONG (CHINA) – China opened its national security office in Hong Kong on Wednesday, by changing a hotel near a city-centre park into its new headquarters. The building has been one of the most popular venues for pro-democracy protests.
The office, which operates beyond the scrutiny of local courts or other institutions, will scrutinise the Hong Kong government’s enforcement of the national security legislation that Beijing imposed on the city last week.
According to the new law, it allows the agents to take suspects across the border for trials in Communist Party-controlled courts. It ascribes special privileges to them, which includes that Hong Kong authorities cannot search or detain them, or even inspect their vehicles.
It was not known as to how many mainland agents will be stationed in the former Metropark Hotel, a 266-room, 33-storey building in the shopping and commercial district of Causeway Bay, near Victoria Park.
At the opening ceremony, chief of the security office Zheng Yanxiong said he would implement the law strictly “without infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of any individual or organisation”.
Luo Huining, head of China’s Liaison Office in the city, Beijing’s top representative office, said, “Those with ulterior motives and who are anti-China and seek to destabilise Hong Kong have not only stigmatised the office, but also smeared the legal system and rule of law in the Chinese mainland in an attempt to stir up unnecessary worries and fears among Hong Kong residents.”
The new security law has received condemnation from some Western governments, lawyers and rights groups.
Police have arrested at least 10 people, including a 15-year-old, under the new law for suspected threats to China’s national security.
Hong Kong and Beijing officials assert that rights and freedoms would remain intact, however, say national security is a “red line”. The new security legislation has already started to change life in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday restricted school students from singing “Glory to Hong Kong”, the unofficial anthem of the pro-democracy protest movement.
Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung declared that students should not participate in class boycotts, chant slogans, form human chains or sing songs with political messages, referring specifically to the popular protest anthem.
Public libraries have removed books by some pro-democracy activists and politicians. The “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” slogan is now cconsidered illegal. Activists have disbanded their organisations or fled. Shops have removed protest-themed products and decorations.
Pro-democracy advocates say its contents are vague and are anxious about Beijing authorities having final interpretation rights.
As part of the widespread discomfort over the legislation, major US internet companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Zoom have decided to suspend the processing of requests for user data from the Hong Kong authorities while they analyse it.
The United States has started removing Hong Kong’s special status in US law as Washington does not look at the global financial hub as sufficiently autonomous from mainland China.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.