China on Wednesday inaugurated an office in Hong Kong to place national security agents there as part of the new security law for the semi-autonomous region, local media reported.
During the inaugural ceremony, Zheng Yanxiong, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China — who was appointed to lead the office — made appearance, while Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Police Commissioner Tang Ping-keung also attended the event.
During her speech, Lam described the opening of the new office a “historical moment,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).
Lam said the local government, and the committee on national security that she’s chairing, will set up a “coordination mechanism” with the newly set up office to strengthen the sharing of information and operations on the matter.
Luo Huining, the head of China’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said the opening of the office “is a major step and it would fulfill its fundamental responsibilities for safeguarding national security,” according to Global Times.
“The office will only exercise jurisdiction when a case is complex due to interference of foreign forces, in a severe situation when the HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] government is unable to effectively enforce the law, or there is a major and imminent threat, according to Article 55 of the new national security law,” the daily said.
On June 30, the new security law for Hong Kong was unanimously passed by China’s National People’s Congress and then signed into law by President Xi Jinping.
It has drawn criticism within Hong Kong and in the international community, which Beijing has dismissed as “foreign intervention.”
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region that has been part of China since 1997, when the UK handed over the former colony to Beijing.
Since last year, it has been mired in protests sparked by a move to legalize extradition of people to mainland China.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities also banned singing of protest anthem in schools.
According to RTHK, Hong Kong’s Education Minister Kevin Yeung banned students from singing, playing, or broadcasting the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong on campus – along with all other explicitly political songs – saying children’s right to free expression “is not absolute”.
“Schools must not allow their students to play, sing or broadcast any songs which will disrupt the normal operation of schools, affect students’ emotions or contain political messages”, Yeung said.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid
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