Police said they will be taking counterterrorism security measures to ensure the safety of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, during his three-day visit to Hong Kong starting Tuesday.
Zhang, who will deliver a keynote address at the Belt and Road Summit Wednesday at the invitation of Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying, is the first top Beijing leader to visit Hong Kong since 2012, when former president Hu Jintao took part in the 15th-anniversary celebrations of the city’s handover to China.
Police said Sunday that appropriate counterterrorism security measures, including personal and traffic escorts, will be provided throughout Zhang’s stay in Hong Kong.
Inconvenience to the public and road users might be unavoidable, such as temporary diversion of traffic and pedestrian access and temporary closure of flyovers and footbridges during the passage of the motorcade, police said.
Special traffic arrangements on Hong Kong Island from May 17 to 19 will include the rerouting of Harbour Road between Fenwick Pier Street and Fleming Road to one-way eastbound and to one-way westbound from 7 a.m. on Tuesday to noon on Thursday.
This section of the road will be intermittently closed if necessary, police said.
Expo Drive, Expo Drive Central and Expo Drive East will be closed from midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday.
Construction work near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the summit is being held, will be suspended for four days.
The arrangements are expected to cause serious traffic congestion in Admiralty and Wan Chai, the Hong Kong Economic Journal said Monday.
Nelson Cheng Yiu-mo, assistant commissioner of police (operations), stressed that the priority of police work is to make sure nothing will jeopardize safety of Zhang and other participants in the summit, and police will take decisive action to prevent any potential threats.
He did not confirm whether the police have received any terrorism-related information, nor did he disclose which places around the venue of the summit are part of security zones.
Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, quoted police as saying that, after negotiations, people from the media are allowed to move and take pictures freely in the security zones.
While police apparently want to avoid the raising of controversial issues, as occurred during a 2011 visit paid by then vice premier Li Keqiang, using tight security measures, some critics questioned the necessity of doing so.
Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu told Ming Pao Daily it is unwise for the police to implement high-level security arrangements for Zhang’s visit, as that could only make the situation in Hong Kong more tense.
Law Yuk-kai, director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, said police should set security zones with clear boundaries, based on the Public Order Ordinance, as they did during the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference back in 2005.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer in the department of government and public administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said police are trying to use the potential threat of terrorism merely as a justification for heightened security.
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