Overnight, authorities in Hong Kong turned a tourist hotel in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay into the temporary headquarters for Beijing’s feared state security police which will oversee the enforcement of the national security legislation imposed by China.
The preparations started with the closing off nearby streets overnight, and installing an emblem of the ruling Chinese Communist Party on the building.
The street outside the Metropark Hotel, Causeway Bay was cordoned off by regular police, while tall men in black gym clothes with buzz-cuts unloaded several trucks of two-meter high barriers around the front entrance and lining the street outside.
Following an all-night operation overseen by several high-ranking officers in the Hong Kong police force, the new headquarters is now gearing up to enforce a draconian security law that includes online content and peaceful forms of public expression within its dragnet.
Journalists were repeatedly told to back away from the site by men in unidentified green uniforms, while local police sealed off the area from traffic, according to social media posts and live video streams from the scene.
The headquarters is just a few streets away from Victoria Park, which has been a focal point for mass public rallies and anti-government protests ever since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) put down the 1989 student-led democracy movement in Beijing with machine guns and tanks.
Causeway Bay was also a major protest site during the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, and has frequently served as the starting point for mass protests against exactly the kind of national security legislation that has now been imposed on the city by Beijing.
The Metropark Hotel is now the headquarters of Beijing’s Office for Safeguarding National Security, and will be used by agents of China’s feared state security police who have been allowed to operate in the city to enforce the new law.
The office’s director, Zheng Yanxiong, who previously handled a mass popular uprising against official corruption in Guangdong’s rebel village of Wukan, said his office would work together with Beijing’s Central Liaison Office and the PLA’s Hong Kong Garrison.
Luo Huining, Beijing’s representative in Hong Kong, said it would function as the “gatekeeper for national security operations.”
Chief executive Carrie Lam said the opening of the office was a ‘historical moment,’ and that her administration was committed to sharing information and carrying out joint operations with the new office, government broadcaster RTHK reported.
“A national flag has also been hoisted outside the building and a national emblem has been placed on the building,” RTHK reported. (Source: RFA)