Hong Kong politics
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Hopes and fears: Zhang Dejiang visits Hong Kong

High anxiety? Police camp atop Lion Rock before Zhang Dejiang visit to Hong Kong

Post learns officers gathering at iconic mountain to ensure security for state leader

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 7:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 3:15pm

Police were seen camping atop Lion Rock ahead of state leader Zhang Dejiang’s visit to the city after a pro-democracy banner was hung on the mountain two years ago.

A hiker, who wished to remain anonymous, said he saw around nine officers hiking up the iconic 495-metre-high mountain on Monday.

He told the Post another regular hiker on the route heard from the officers that they were there to prevent trouble when Zhang arrives in the city on Tuesday for a three-day visit.

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Zhang, who chairs the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, is the first state leader to visit Hong Kong since 2012.

A police source close to the matter said the officers were from the rural area patrol unit and that the force had stepped up security measures for the chairman.

“There was a huge banner hung from the rock in 2014,” the source said. “We have to take precautions before Zhang’s arrival.”

But he stopped short of revealing what risk a banner would pose and did not share details of the security measures.

It was understood that Zhang is scheduled to visit a newly built public housing estate in Kwun Tong district during his stay.

Lion Rock became a site of protest during the Occupy movement in 2014 when a group of rock climbers hung a large yellow banner reading “I want real universal suffrage” on the mountain to show support for the pro-democracy movement.

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Many in the city associate “Lion Rock spirit” with striving for a better life, as embodied in the 1970s RTHK drama Under the Lion Rock and its title song.

A few days after authorities removed the banner from the famous landmark, a similar banner appeared on Kowloon Peak.