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Xi Jinping

Hong Kong police escort team carries out exercises ahead of visit by state leader in June

Elite motorcyclists were assigned to clear obstacles and cordon off roads in Fanling and Sheung Shui during the drill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 6:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 10:09pm

The elite Hong Kong police escort team is conducting a five-day motorcycle VIP escort exercise this week ahead of the July visit of a state leader, the Post has learned.

About 40 officers from the escort team, riding motorcycles, were assigned to clear obstacles and cordon off roads in Fanling and Sheung Shui during the drill on Tuesday – the second day of training, according to a force insider.

“They were also trained to implement measures to protect their escort vehicles,” another police source said.

He said the escort team would mount joint training with other police units during the five-day exercise.

Police ‘learned’ from Mong Kok riot: 2,000 elite officers on standby for Hong Kong elections

The source said the exercise was part of the team’s regular training and was not specifically carried out to prepare for the coming 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1. President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the city to mark the event and swear in the new chief executive.

More than 30 police motorcycles from the escort team gathered outside Fanling MTR station at about 11am on Tuesday before starting the drill.

It is understood officers from the escort team were selected from the force’s five regional traffic units.

Another source said the force would work out the route of the motorcade for each escort operation.

Details of escort duties would have to be kept confidential for security reasons, the source added.

“Team members will be notified about the task at the last minute,” he said.

To prepare for the anniversary, the 29,000-strong force will soon hold its largest ever anti-terror drill to ensure officers are ready for any eventuality.

Before Christmas, elite officers from the counterterrorism unit were deployed for the first time to carry out patrol duties on the MTR network following global terrorist attacks.

But sources stressed there was no intelligence to suggest Hong Kong had been targeted for a terrorist attack and the city’s terrorism threat level remained “moderate”.

The Mong Kok riot last year in which about 100 officers were injured prompted police to buy 400 new tactical suits. The suits, each weighing less than 5.5kg, are understood to protect wearers from heat-related injuries. Tailor-made padding also protects officers from hard objects hurled by rioters.

Tenders for the suits have to be submitted by March 16. Delivery should be made within 90 days of the date of acceptance of the tender.

Since the city was rocked by violence in Mong Kok, police have tested new mid-range crowd control equipment such as pepper balls, recommended by an internal subcommittee set up to review police arms, equipment and training.