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Hong Kong inaugurates Beijing’s national security office

  • HONG KONG GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES VIA AP
                                Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during an opening ceremony for the China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence. The new Chinese office in Hong Kong has taken over the Metropark Hotel, owned by the China Travel Service, in the now fashionable neighborhood of Tai Hang, close to Causeway Bay.

    HONG KONG GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES VIA AP

    Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during an opening ceremony for the China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence. The new Chinese office in Hong Kong has taken over the Metropark Hotel, owned by the China Travel Service, in the now fashionable neighborhood of Tai Hang, close to Causeway Bay.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Mainland Chinese Communist Party officials and Hong Kong officials attend an opening ceremony for China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Mainland Chinese Communist Party officials and Hong Kong officials attend an opening ceremony for China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence.

  • HONG KONG GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES VIA AP
                                From left, Director of the Liaison Office and National Security Adviser to the Committee for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Luo Huining, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying and head of the Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Zheng Yanxiong attend an opening ceremony for the China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence. The new Chinese office in Hong Kong has taken over the Metropark Hotel, owned by the China Travel Service, in the now fashionable neighborhood of Tai Hang, close to Causeway Bay.

    HONG KONG GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES VIA AP

    From left, Director of the Liaison Office and National Security Adviser to the Committee for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Luo Huining, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, former Hong Kong Chief Executives Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying and head of the Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Zheng Yanxiong attend an opening ceremony for the China’s new Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. China’s new national security office in Hong Kong got off to an early start on Wednesday with an official opening amidst heavy police presence. The new Chinese office in Hong Kong has taken over the Metropark Hotel, owned by the China Travel Service, in the now fashionable neighborhood of Tai Hang, close to Causeway Bay.

HONG KONG >> Beijing’s national security office was inaugurated in Hong Kong today, just over a week after China’s central government imposed a tough new law on the city that critics view as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam together with predecessors Leung Chun-ying and Tung Chee-hwa marked the opening of the Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong. Chinese Communist Party officials were also present, and security was tight.

The new office was established after Beijing imposed a national security law in Hong Kong that took effect on June 30. The new legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in the semi-autonomous territory’s internal affairs.

Following a flag-raising ceremony, at which the Chinese flag was hoisted outside the office, Lam and the former Hong Kong leaders unveiled a plaque bearing the name of the new agency. Officials present then congratulated one another on the opening.

Under the national security law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the law.

Critics see the law as Beijing’s boldest move yet to erase the divide between Hong Kong’s Western-style system and mainland China’s authoritarian way of governing.

The fear is that the law erodes the special freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong, which has operated under a “one country, two systems” framework since China took control of the city from Britain in 1997. That arrangement has allowed Hong Kong’s people freedoms not permitted in mainland China, such as public dissent and unrestricted internet access.

After the law was imposed, a slew of tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, said they would stop processing requests from law enforcement officials for user data in Hong Kong, as they assess the ramifications of the law.

On Wednesday, Microsoft and Zoom said they would take similar action.

TikTok announced Tuesday that it would stop operations of its app in Hong Kong, and by Tuesday the app could not be downloaded from Hong Kong’s Apple and Google app stores.

At a lawmakers panel on Tuesday, pro-democracy lawmakers grilled Hong Kong’s secretaries for security and justice over the law and its implementation rules.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Jeremy Tam held up a blank white piece of paper — a move often used by demonstrators to protest against what they call the “white terror” of silencing political dissidence — and asked if doing do contravened the new security law. Other lawmakers followed suit. Tam did not manage to get an answer to his question before time was up.

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