Hong Kong’s best policeman dwarfs city chief Lam while Beijing rages

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Police spokesperson, answering Tang’s questions from Reuters, said that violent attacks by protesters last year – including the use of “sharp instruments, metal rods, bows and arrows , gasoline bombs, corrosive liquids and explosive substances “- had put” national security “At risk. This threat to public security and the “forces” advocating independence, said the spokesman, required “effective measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating”.

The police, said the officer, “will fully exercise their functions and strictly enforce the law to restore social order and ensure the effective implementation of the national security law” in Hong Kong.

Explaining the need for the new law, a spokesman for the Hong Kong government said that in addition to “frequent violence in the past year,” there had also been “actions for independence.” ” The spokesperson answered questions sent to Lee and Cheng.

Lam did not answer questions about the increasingly dominant role played by Tang. Authorities on the continent did not answer Reuters’ questions for the story.

Although the new law went into effect last week, Tang had already started cracking down on Hong Kong months earlier. In mid-November, the city was in open revolt. Months of protests broke the authority of local government and demoralized its 30,000 police. As protests peaked, Beijing announced the appointment of Tang.

He moved to the police commissioner’s office in November, just when a crucial confrontation was underway. Protesters, some armed with Molotov cocktails, bows and arrows, had barricaded themselves inside the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. It was a tactical error. The police jumped.

In previous protests, protesters were able to blend into the maze of streets in Hong Kong and regroup elsewhere. This time they were trapped. Hundreds of police sealed the campus entrances and seized all of the protesters who were trying to leave. More than 1,100 were eventually arrested. It was a turning point for the besieged authorities. For the first time in months, besieged police officers had foiled the demonstrators.

At the end of Tang’s first day in high office, he went straight to the front line to congratulate his officers. Dressed in a dark civilian jacket and pants, he stands out. He shook hands and chatted with tired riot police in helmets and heavy protective gear.

Tang has since remained on the offensive, helped in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which effectively stopped the protests for several months. He used preventive arrests and arrest and search measures to prevent the protests, and called out brutal cries to motivate his officers. After the police foiled a demonstration in late May at the city’s Legislative Council, Tang went to police radio to praise the force.

Democracy lawmakers, academics and foreign diplomats say the new security law signals the death of the “one country, two systems” model used to govern Hong Kong. In place since the city was ceded to China in 1997, the agreement has given Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and has protected a wide range of freedoms enjoyed by city dwellers, such as freedom of expression and the press, who don’t. exist on the continent.

Many say that the city is increasingly run from Beijing. Mainland Chinese officials have been appointed as the city’s best national security adviser and head of a new national security agency in Hong Kong that will have global authority, including an enforcement role in most serious cases.

“We are in a situation where the Chinese Communist Party controls the police and the police control Hong Kong,” said veteran pro-democracy lawmaker James To, who has been monitoring police and security issues for decades. “This is not the way Hong Kong is supposed to work, or has worked until recently. “

Hong Kong, he added, has become “a police security state”.

The new law quickly made the city shiver. Hours before his imposition, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said that Demosisto, a group he led, was dissolving, while a prominent member of the group, Nathan Law, left the city. Wong told Reuters that the group made the decision because it was concerned about the safety of its members.

“China will no longer take risks with national security, and Chris Tang is someone they trust. “

A man carrying a popular protest slogan – “Free Hong Kong. Revolution of our time “- rode his motorbike into a police line last week knocking down three police officers in protest at security legislation. He became the first person to be charged with incitement to secession and terrorist activities under the law. The man, who has not yet pleaded guilty, was later denied bail and was placed in pre-trial detention. The city government said the slogan was about separatism or subversion under the new law.

The legislation, Tang said this week, was doing its job. He told Chinese public television station CCTV that the enactment of the law had already had a “positive effect” on the stability of Hong Kong. This seems to have led some people to quit the protest movement, he said, without naming anyone.

Tang compared the actions of some of the protesters to terrorism – a line that the Beijing leadership used to justify the legislation. In a May 25 statement, he said that police had discovered 14 cases involving explosives and five cases in which authentic firearms and ammunition had been seized since the protests began.

And he highlighted the threat of what he called “locally-sourced terrorism” in a video posted on a government-supported website in mid-April. The video included images of explosions during the siege of the Polytechnic University, where protesters threw Molotov cocktails and shot arrows at the police. He also shows an airplane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, while Tang is heard explaining to viewers that the incidents involving explosives in Hong Kong are “very similar to these overseas cases” .



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