Security zone in place at top venue

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 1997, 12:00am

Control at the handover ceremonies venues got into full swing last night when police formed a one-kilometre security zone in Wan Chai which included 750 water barriers.

All people entering the extension of the Convention and Exhibition Centre will have to present passes.

They will also have to get through checks by police who have conducted searches in the area over the past few days.

While eight roads have been cordoned off around the venues, emergency routes have been planned which would allow the thousands of guests at East Tamar and the convention centre to evacuate in about 10 minutes in case of emergency.

Entry at Hunghom's Harbour Plaza Hotel, where top Chinese leaders will be staying, was also tightened yesterday with airport-type X-ray machines for guests' luggage installed a few days ago now operating.

Anyone entering the hotel where Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and other VIP guests will be staying will have to undergo security checks.

Tycoon Li Ka-shing, an adviser to Beijing on Hong Kong Affairs and owner of the hotel, personally received Mr Qian with his two sons, Richard Li Tzar-kai and Victor Li Tzar-kuoi.

About 10 VIP Protection Unit officers, all in neatly pressed black suits, were stationed on the 18th and 19th floors of the hotel yesterday with a counter set up at entrances to corridors to prevent uninvited guests.

President Jiang Zemin and premier Li Peng are expected for a short stay at the hotel. They arrive in the territory today and leave for Beijing tomorrow.

Red carpets have been laid in the lobby and on the hotel's private pier where the senior leaders are expected to be ferried to the convention centre to attend the handover ceremony today.

But sources said the routes of the leaders would be subject to last-minute changes.

This would depend on 'circumstances'.

About 600 VIP Protection Unit officers will protect about 60 internationally protected people whose bodyguards will not be allowed to be armed while in the territory.

The bodyguards will perform only a liaison role and any weapons they bring along will be kept by Customs officers.