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HK official calls for vigilance on security threats

By OASIS HU | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-11 07:13
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The security chief of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said the city should remain on high alert to address lurking and emergent national security threats, and should take decisive actions to prevent homegrown terrorism and cyberattacks and counter the influence of external hostile forces.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily on Friday, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Pingkeung said national security threats in Hong Kong were still grave.

Noting that local terrorism is of high concern, Tang said, "We have to be vigilant, and there is no room for complacency."

Homegrown terrorism threats, which have emerged since the protest violence that devastated Hong Kong in 2019, have lingered and can be in the form of a lone-wolf attack or a local terrorism group, he said.

On July 1, a man attempted to kill a police officer on duty before committing suicide. The case was deemed a lone-wolf act of domestic terrorism after investigation by the police.

The police have also cracked down on a radical group, found explosives and chemicals that could be used for making bombs, and arrested the group's members. Numerous suspects were charged under the National Security Law for Hong Kong with allegedly engaging in terrorist activities or conspiring to incite subversion.

Tang said the city should enact Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible to outlaw more categories of serious crimes-such as treason, sedition, espionage and theft of State secrets-that endanger national security but are not addressed in the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

The implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong since June 30, 2020, has restored law and order and stability in the city.

By March 31, police had arrested 175 people in connection with national security offenses. A total of 112 suspects were prosecuted on charges including secession, inciting subversion, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, or collusion with external forces to endanger national security.

Cybersecurity threats have become a bigger menace, Tang said. "If a cyberattack struck our telecommunications infrastructure or utilities system, the consequences would be far more than inconveniences. National security is at stake," he said.

The launch of public consultation for proposed cybersecurity legislation is being prepared for this year, Tang said. The legislation aims to strengthen the city's defense mechanism against cyberattacks, assess risks, formulate protocols and conduct drills to enhance preparedness.

He also said that local and external forces would not cease their smear campaigns against Hong Kong. He referred to the recent resignations of two British judges from their posts as nonpermanent judges at Hong Kong's top court. It is widely believed that they resigned under political pressure exerted by British politicians with an anti-China agenda.

Shortly afterward, five other British judges confirmed that they would stay on Hong Kong's top court and expressed their confidence in the city's judicial independence.

Tang said this latest example shows that hostile foreign forces are constantly on the offensive to make false accusations about Hong Kong, smear the National Security Law for Hong Kong and vilify the government.

He stressed that it is imperative to tell the truth about Hong Kong in the international arena. Raising public awareness is also important, he said.

To mark the annual National Security Education Day, which falls on Friday, the HK Security Bureau will hold various events, including flag-raising ceremonies and an online exhibition about the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

The bureau is also working with the HK Education Bureau to organize national security-themed competitions, to engage young people to learn more about the concept and develop a stronger sense of affinity with the country.

Tang said that youth outreach is always important. Police and fire services, among others, have longstanding programs to support young people with training in leadership and problem-solving skills, he said.

For young offenders, especially those arrested or convicted in connection with the violent protests in 2019, there are activities to help with their rehabilitation with the participation of volunteers and family members.

The goal is to help young people develop a positive mindset and patriotic spirit, Tang said.

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