THE STRUGGLE TO KEEP Hong Kong safe is not over, the city’s leader John Lee Ka-chiu said. “There are still underlying national security threats from different fronts,” he warned.
In response, the city is putting more resources into intelligence gathering, the Chief Executive told a conference. “We will step up efforts in gathering and analysing intelligence related to national security and counter-terrorism, in particular online information and counter-spying intelligence,” Mr Lee said.
He was speaking at Towards a Fairer, Safer World, a conference organized by Friday Culture and the Hong Kong Coalition, on November 2.
The Chief Executive made it clear that destabilization efforts by hostile forces are still an issue in the city. While he did not specifically identify any particular country, it is widely known that a portion of the U.S. Senate’s US$2 billion fund to “counter Chinese influence” has been earmarked for use in Hong Kong. A number of foreign agencies are known to be active here.
On top of that, Hong Kong’s challenges are amplified by disinformation, with the city badly misrepresented, Mr Lee said. “Dissemination of wrongful messages and slandering accusations can still be seen at home and abroad,” he warned, reminding listeners of the violent protests over the past few years, such as in 2016 and 2019. Security analysts in Hong Kong have made the same point: anti-government protesters had guns and radio-controlled bombs big enough to bring down buildings – yet are still being portrayed as peaceful victims.
This information warfare against Hong Kong will have to be resisted. “Much of the misperception towards Hong Kong by people overseas was the result of the spreading of fake news with ill intent,” Mr Lee said.
In addition to trying correct unfair allegations, he called on Hong Kong people to “be proactive and make good use of our discourse power to tell the world all the good and true stories of Hong Kong”.
Analysts have been warning about “hybrid warfare” technique in which hostile forces stir up trouble while a media campaign blames the police.
WE LEFT LOOPHOLES
But Mr Lee admitted that some of the problems were of Hong Kong’s own making, as we allowed “loopholes” in our system of governance. These were used to try to crash the “one country two systems” principle that gave Hong Kong its special identity. The loopholes were “exploited by those who crossed the line and tried to sabotage one country, two systems,” the Chief Executive said.
At the moment the violence has gone, Hong Kong has a security law, and the “one country two systems” policy was safe – but he warned that we “should not be complacent about the status quo and stop there. In fact, even after the implementation of the National Security Law, there are still underlying national security threats from different fronts.”
Mr Lee told the conference that we all “must stay alert to threats and dangers”.
For the full speech by CE John Lee, click here.
For Nury Vittachi’s brief video summary made immediately after the event, click here.
For a news report on Dr Herman Hu’s welcome remarks, click here.
For a video of Dr Herman Hu’s welcome remarks, click here.
For a statement of record listing all participants and speakers, click here.
Image at the top by fridayeveryday