Three officers sanctioned by the US have been promoted within the Hong Kong police’s National Security Department, with two becoming leading figures. Chief Executive John Lee said the promoted officers were “fearless” in face of Washington’s “bullying act”.

Andrew Kan Kai-yan John Lee
Deputy Commissioner of Police (National Security), Kan Kai-yan (left), takes the oath of office in front of Chief Executive John Lee on Tuesday. Photo: GovHK.

The police announced in a Tuesday statement that the chief executive had appointed Andrew Kan as the head of its National Security Department following his predecessor Edwina Lau’s retirement.

Meanwhile, Kan’s former post as director of national security would be taken up by Kelvin Kong, after the latter was promoted by police chief Raymond Siu to become a senior assistant commissioner of police.

Lee also appointed Steve Li, formerly a superintendent, to become the chief superintendent of police at the National Security Department.

Li has been sanctioned by the US since November 2020 over Beijing’s implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong. Later, in January 2021, both Kan and Kong were placed under US sanctions after the mass arrest of pro-democracy figures who partook in a primary election for the ultimately-postponed 2020 Legislative Council poll.

steve li police
Steve Li. File photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Forty-seven democrats have since been charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under the national security law. The trial against 16 of them who pleaded not guilty is currently underway.

The chief executive – who is also sanctioned by Washington – said in the Tuesday statement: “Even though both Mr Kan and Mr Li face the United States’ bullying act of gross imposition of so-called sanction[s], they are fearless, firm and dedicated to their duties.”

Similarly, the police commissioner said Kong “has remained steadfast in carrying out his duties” despite the US sanctions.

National security officers

All three officers already held titles at the National Security Department before their promotions.

Kelvin Kong
Kelvin Kong. File photo: Hong Kong police.

Steve Li has frequently appeared at Hong Kong’s biggest national security operations. He was present when over 100 officers raided the headquarters of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, and talked to the press after the mass arrest of participants of the pro-democracy camp primaries.

Kan joined Hong Kong’s police force in 1991 and was appointed as an assistant commissioner of police at the National Security Department in August 2020.

His was then promoted in December 2021 to become the director of national security to replace Frederic Choi, after Choi was found at an unlicensed massage parlour during a police raid.

Kong began serving within the police force in 1996. He was appointed to the National Security Department as an assistant commissioner in July 2020.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.