The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association and Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, along with pro-democracy Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, criticised on Sunday the security arrangements ahead of Zhang Dejiang’s visit to Hong Kong, which include a ban on media interviews.

Zhang Dejiang, the top Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, is in the territory at the invitation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to attend a summit on the Belt and Road Initiative, to be held on Wednesday.

Zhang Dejiang. Photo: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores via Facebook.

The police said on Sunday that they will adopt anti-terrorism measures in Wanchai during Zhang’s visit due to a high risk of terrorism-related activity. Several roads going through Wanchai will be closed and metal barricades will be placed outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Water barriers will also be deployed. At the Grand Hyatt, where Zhang will be staying during his visit, baggage scanning machines will be set up.

The police also said originally that journalists would not be able to report from within the security area. While they will allowed to film in the area, they will not be allowed to interview. Two security areas estimated to hold around 80 reporters in total have been set up.

However after a meeting on Sunday, Sham Yee-lan, the chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association said that the police had told her that – at appropriate times and depending on the situation – they will try their best to fulfil requests by journalists.

Hong Kong Journalist Association chair Sham Yee-lan. File

“In my memory, this is the first time that [journalists are] not allowed in the security area to let them freely interview. Reporters can freely move about, but cannot freely interview” said Sham.

James To told local media that “How can the media do their work? Media represent the public. If you prevent journalists from reporting directly, this is not an appropriate arrangement.” He also said that it was “ridiculous” that the police were saying that they are not able to say how big the security area will be.

Special measures?

Ahead of Zhang’s visit, the Highways Department and MTR Corporation have said that work at the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and the Shatin to Central Link (SCL) construction sites in Wan Chai will be suspended for four days from Monday until Thursday.

Photo: Fernando Cheung.

Workers have also secured pavements bricks outside the Central Government Offices and Legislative Council with glue. They also glued bricks in the area outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. However, heavy rain last Tuesday washed away the adhesive.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.