Police officers have been instructed to crack down on sensitive slogans and images in order to avoid “embarrassing” the country’s leaders during President Xi Jinping’s visit next week, according to sources cited by Ming Pao.
It has long been expected that President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong during the 20th anniversary celebrations for the Handover of sovereignty next week. Local media confirmed with unnamed sources on Friday that Xi will be in town from next Thursday to Saturday.
At least 9,000 police officers will be deployed during the celebrations, and police have begun to make security preparations, according to RTHK.
According to Ming Pao, police officers were instructed by their superiors that one of their goals during the celebrations was to “prevent leaders from being embarrassed,” reminding them to keep sensitive content from showing up within Xi’s field of vision.
Phrases such as “rehabilitate victims of the Tiananmen massacre,” and “we want real universal suffrage,” are to be prohibited and must not appear along Xi’s planned route, the sources said.
But their superiors said that images of Xi Jinping holding a yellow umbrella would be a newly-added sensitive item. During the 2014 pro-democracy protests, demonstrators altered a photo of Xi carrying an umbrella in the rain and hung it in the protest areas.
“But if people hang banners from Lion Rock, it would only be visible from a distance, so it may not be a priority for us,” a source said. Pro-democracy banners have often appeared on Lion Rock on sensitive occasions, including during No. 3 official Zhang Dejiang’s visit last year.
Meanwhile, democracy activist Joshua Wong called for protests during Xi’s visit.
“It’s time for demonstration instead of celebration when President Xi’s Hong Kong visit confirmed!” he tweeted on Friday.
Sources told RTHK that the security level would be similar to that of Zhang Dejiang’s visit last year. The risk level for Zhang was raised to the maximum level reserved for top officials and counter-terrorism during his three-day visit in May.