The Security Bureau has said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) radar station sitting atop Hong Kong’s highest peak houses communication installations for various organisations, including ones for defence purposes.

The radar is not among Hong Kong’s 19 designated military sites, and the authorities previously declined to state its purpose following enquiries by the media.

New Chinese Communist Party slogans were spotted on the PLA radar station exterior.

The radar attracted renewed public attention after a new, red slogan “Listen to the party’s words; follow the party’s direction” painted in simplified Chinese text were recently spotted on the structure atop Tai Mo Shan, Apple Daily reported.

The radome, about 15.63 meters in diameter, is located near two other Hong Kong government radars in the same area used for weather forecasts and civil aviation. A PLA vehicle was seen entering the site and men in military uniform were also spotted inside on Friday, according to the newspaper.

In a written response given to newspaper Ming Pao on Saturday, the Security bureau admitted for the first time that the facility houses telecommunication devices for defence purposes, although the area is not a military site.

The Bureau also stated that article 14 of the Basic Law provides that the Central People’s Government shall be responsible for the defence of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Garrison Law states that the Hong Kong government has the responsibility of supporting the Hong Kong Garrison in its performance of defence functions and responsibilities.

A vehicle with designated PLA license plate “ZG” was seen entering the site.

The Hong Kong government had designed 9,300 square meters of public land for the PLA radar station as early as 2009, the South China Morning Post reported in 2014. The building took shape in 2010, based on satellite imagery the newspaper reviewed. Former lawmaker Kenneth Chan urged the Security Bureau to make public the purpose of the site at the time and to designate it as a military facility, in accordance with the garrison law.

A man in military uniform was seen in the site.

In a response to the Legislative Council in October 2014, then-secretary for security Lai Tung-kwok said the area on the Tai Mo Shan hilltop was not one of the designated military sites, and had “all along been government land used for setting up various communication installations.”

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.