Chinese police prepare for Macau handover anniversary with anti-terror drill near Hong Kong

Laura Zhou

Armed police in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai held a massive anti-terror drill at its end of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Friday morning as part of its preparations for the 20th anniversary of the handover of Macau, when President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the city.

More than 1,000 police officers and 80 vehicles were involved in the exercise, amid ongoing political turmoil in Hong Kong, according to local news portal Southcn.com.

Photos circulated online showed officers in body armour, helmets and shields firing tear gas as they confronted a group of people carrying sticks and wearing black shirts and yellow helmets – attire associated with the protesters in Hong Kong, 60km (37 miles) away from Macau.

The drill was held three weeks before the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese administration under the “one country, two systems” policy on December 20.

Police trucks and riot officers during Friday’s exercise at the Zhuhai end of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Photo: Toutiao

Security is expected to be tightened when Xi visits the city, in response to the violent clashes in Hong Kong over the past six months, which Beijing has repeatedly blamed on radical protesters.

The former Portuguese colony is connected to Hong Kong and its neighbouring city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province, by the world’s longest sea crossing bridge. It takes about an hour to drive from Hong Kong to Macau via the bridge.

Guo Yonghang, Zhuhai party chief, urged the local police to stay loyal to the party. “[Police] should be loyal and fulfil duty and mission to create a peaceful and stable political and social environment for the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Macau’s reunification to the motherland,” he said.

Macau was returned to China two years after Hong Kong and celebrations of its success under one country, two systems could be overshadowed by its neighbour’s anti-government protests which stemmed from opposition to proposed extradition legislation and have escalated into violence on the streets and in university campuses.

In August, two months after more than 2 million people in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest the now-suspended extradition bill, police in Shenzhen held at least three drills featuring anti-riot exercises involving tear gas, armoured vehicles and water cannon.

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