Heightened Restrictions in Hong Kong for Xi Jinping’s ‘Expected’ Visit

By Kathleen Li
Kathleen Li
Kathleen Li
Kathleen Li has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009 and focuses on China-related topics. She is an engineer, chartered in civil and structural engineering in Australia.
June 30, 2022 Updated: June 30, 2022

Hong Kong has implemented heightened security measures ahead of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “expected” visit for the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.

On top of road closures and traffic controls, small unmanned aircraft have been banned throughout Hong Kong during the visit between June 30 and July 1, police announced on June 28.

Citing “security concerns,” the Information Services Department (ISD) has also excluded an extended list of journalists from attending the events.

In addition, the League of Social Democrats, one of Hong Kong’s last remaining active pro-democracy groups, was summoned by the national security police and told not to hold any protest on the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese regime leader Xi Jinping speaks following his arrival via high-speed rail across the border, for celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on June 30, 2022. (Selim Chtayti/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Media Denied Coverage

The ISD requested media organizations replace some journalists who had signed up to cover the official handover events. The new requirements announced on June 28 made it impossible for the media to replace journalists as they were requested to provide compulsory daily nucleic acid test results from June 26, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said in a Facebook post.

The ISD required select media on June 16 to sign up for a maximum of 20 journalists and photographers to cover the events. However, the ISD tightened its rules by only allowing one reporter from each company to cover the inauguration and flag-raising ceremony.

At least seven major local and foreign media organizations have been affected by the change, including Ming Pao, Hong Kong 01, South China Morning Post, Now TV, and Agence France-Presse.

As a result, these media may have no journalists covering the event because they also need to provide negative COVID-19 test results from June 26.

Furthermore, the reporters covering the inauguration were required to stay in isolation hotels from June 29.

The HKJA expressed its disappointment with the changes made by the Hong Kong government for such a historical event.

Prior to the changes, in a June 16 statement, the HKJA said it was “extremely concerned” that only selected media may attend the official festivities.

“The HKJA has learned that at least [10] well-known local online and overseas media outlets, news agencies, as well as phone wires were not invited nor allowed to sign up for the events, making them unable to report from the handover’s official events,” the statement reads.

“Similar Handover official events in the past were open to media registration without requiring invitations.”

Epoch Times Photo
A police officer and sniffer dog (C) search the bags of media personnel near West Kowloon Station, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong to attend celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on June 30, 2022. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

No Protests or Rallies

Citing “tough circumstances,” Chan Po-Ying, chairwoman of pro-democracy group League of Social Democrats, said it would not organize any protests on July 1.

In a Facebook post, Chan said that the national security police had contacted some volunteers on June 28, which was believed to have pushed the group to cancel its scheduled protest on July 1.

On the same day, Police Assistant Commissioner Lui Kam-ho said at a press conference that the police had received no applications for public meetings.

The League of Social Democrats has held yearly July 1 protests since 2003. It is one of the few social-democratic groups that remain active after the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong.

However, the police had banned the group’s planned pro-democracy rally on July 1 in 2020 and 2021, citing public gathering restrictions during the pandemic.

Security Zones

Hong Kong police said that “cone security zones” will be set up at the venues where Xi will stay, visit, and pass by. Outside these venues will be “security zones,” adding that a series of security measures will be implemented to ensure the security of these official events.

Lui said the department is duty-bound to ensure Xi Jinping’s “personal safety and security” and safely manage the events that Xi will attend.

The security measures cover both the road traffic system and the flying zones in Hong Kong, with aircraft and flying objects restricted from entering certain zones. In addition, small unmanned aircraft will be banned over the entirety of Hong Kong.

“After conducting a risk assessment, the force also decided to designate the entire area in Hong Kong as a small unmanned aircraft restricted flying zone temporarily,” the government announced.

On June 28, the city’s Transport Department reiterated that special traffic and transport arrangements will be implemented in the vicinity of Wan Chai North until July 1 to facilitate the celebration events. A total of 23 bus routes terminating and 30 passing bus routes will be diverted or truncated.

Kathleen Li
Kathleen Li has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009 and focuses on China-related topics. She is an engineer, chartered in civil and structural engineering in Australia.