Two Guangdong officials have joined the top brass of Beijing’s office in Hong Kong overseeing national security, the South China Morning Post has learned.
A source said the officials were Zheng Zehui, 47, the deputy mayor and public security bureau head in Zhongshan, and Deng Jianwei, 57, a standing committee member of Foshan and also the secretary of the political and legal committee.
The pair attended an inauguration by the Federation of Hong Kong Chiu Chow Community Organisations for its board of directors on Sunday afternoon, along with the security agency’s deputy director Li Jiangzhou and the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
Late on Monday, Bunny Chan Chung-bun, the federation’s chairman, confirmed the pair’s presence, but added that they had not had time to get to know each because of the time constraints of the event.
Chan said he had invited Zheng Yanxiong, head of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, but he had work commitments and his deputy Li came instead, along with Zheng and Deng.
Lam confirmed attending the event in an official statement on Sunday night. But according to the transcript of her speech, she only addressed Li, Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwai-yuen, the organisation’s chairmen and other guests.
She praised the organisation for supporting the national security law and supporting the government in safeguarding national security.
The Beijing-imposed law was enacted on June 30 last year and bans secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. The offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Beijing’s national security office was set up the next day and the Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay in Tai Hang was converted into the office’s headquarters in October. The office’s organisational structure was never revealed.
Headed by Zheng Yanxiong, the office has been given vast powers for activities ranging from collecting intelligence to handling cases and overseeing the work of international non-governmental organisations and news agencies. Zheng’s deputy in the organisation is Sun Qingye.
The office can assess the city’s adherence to national security requirements and make proposals on major strategies and policies. It is also tasked with collecting and analysing intelligence, as well as handling cases concerning national security.
Mainland Chinese national security officers who observe local laws will not be under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong while carrying out their duties.
The officers and the vehicles used while carrying out their duties also are not subject to checks or scrutiny by Hong Kong’s law enforcement agencies. The law specifies all departments of the local administration must “provide necessary facilitation and support” to the mainland agency or risk being held accountable.
Hong Kong police have so far arrested 82 men and 17 women, aged 16 to 79, on suspicion of committing acts and engaging in activities endangering national security.
Beijing has also been given the power to directly exercise jurisdiction over cases involving “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces, ones in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law, and those in which national security is under “serious and realistic threats”.
In these circumstances, the agency can exercise direct jurisdiction upon approval by the central government.
This article Guangdong officials join top brass at national security office in Hong Kong, source says first appeared on South China Morning Post