Hong Kong se­cu­rity chief ap­pointed

Of­fi­cial who quashed protests in China will over­see new anti-sub­ver­sion laws

The Irish Times - - World News - YUAN YANG, NI­COLLE LIU I and QIANER LIU

A Com­mu­nist Party of­fi­cial who gained no­to­ri­ety for his vi­o­lent sup­pres­sion of protests on the main­land has been ap­pointed chief of Hong Kong’s new na­tional se­cu­rity of­fice.

Zheng Yanx­iong (56) has been given sub­stan­tial power over res­i­dents and for­eign busi­nesses un­der the ter­ri­tory’s new anti-sub­ver­sion laws.

He had pre­vi­ously over­seen the po­lice sup­pres­sion of demon­stra­tions in the south­ern Chi­nese vil­lage of Wukan in 2011, where lo­cal peo­ple were protest­ing over a land sale by the gov­ern­ment. He was later made sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Guang­dong party com­mit­tee, which bor­ders Hong Kong.

In his new role, Mr Zheng will over­see Hong Kong’s Of­fice for Safe­guard­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity, whose re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude stamp­ing out sub­ver­sion, se­ces­sion, ter­ror­ism and “col­lu­sion” with “ex­ter­nal el­e­ments”.

Res­i­dents ex­pect the of­fice to work with the ter­ri­tory’s po­lice force to quash pro-democ­racy protests that have brought mil­lions on to the streets over the past year.

Yes­ter­day, Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties launched the first pros­e­cu­tion un­der the new laws when a 24-year-old man ap­peared in court for in­cit­ing se­ces­sion and ter­ror­ism.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the sus­pect drove a mo­tor­cy­cle into of­fi­cers on Wed­nes­day, in­jur­ing three mem­bers of the force. He was also dis­play­ing a flag with the banned slo­gan, “Lib­er­ate Hong Kong, revo­lu­tion of our times.”

Ar­rests

On the first day after the na­tional se­cu­rity law came into ef­fect, po­lice ar­rested as many as 370 peo­ple at a protest, and at least 10 oth­ers for na­tional se­cu­rity-re­lated crimes such as car­ry­ing a Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence flag.

Mr Zheng’s of­fice has a wide purview, from over­see­ing the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment’s na­tional se­cu­rity poli­cies to col­lect­ing in­tel­li­gence and in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases.

Un­der the new se­cu­rity law’s ex­trater­ri­to­rial clauses, Mr Zheng has also been tasked with “strength­en­ing man­age­ment over or­gans” of for­eign coun­tries, in­ter­na­tional non-gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies, as well as news agen­cies, in part­ner­ship with China’s min­istry of for­eign af­fairs.– Copy­right The Fi­nan­cial Times Lim­ited 2020

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