After just a few days of imposing its national security law, Chinese authorities have opened up its national security office in Hong Kong that will be engaged in monitoring the implementation of the newly enacted law in the city with special administrative region.
To develop the headquarters for the Central government’s Office for Safeguarding National Security, the authorities have transformed the Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay, according to media reports.
The inauguration came as Hong Kong’s education bureau announced on July 8 that schools must not allow students to play, sing or broadcast the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” because it contains political messages.
Beijing security agents will be operating here under the new legislation which prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in the semi-autonomous territory’s internal affairs.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and pro-Beijing figures attended the ceremony of opening the office, where its director, Zheng Yanxiong promised that his agents will abide by the law when doing their job without violating anyone’s legal rights.
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 legislation.
Despite the concerns expressed by local pro-democracy advocates over the new law’s negative impact on civil liberties in the city, both Beijing and Hong Kong authorities have stressed that the law only aims to target subversive and terrorist activities without harming existing democratic liberties of local residents.
Critics fear 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.