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Hong Kong police run security drill ahead of visit by Indonesian leader Joko Widodo as risk deemed ‘high’

Force insider describes security plan for Joko Widodo as comparable to that of a Chinese state leader

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, 7:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 12:02am

Police on Tuesday mounted a large-scale security drill across Hong Kong to prepare for a high risk level, five days before the city hosts a visit by Indonesia’s leader.

A police source said the security blanket for Indonesian President Joko Widodo during his two-day trip was similar in scale to the precautions taken for visiting state leader Zhang Dejiang last May.

The major exercise would also ready the force for President Xi Jinping’s visit in July for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, he said.

A long motorcade comprising some 20 police vehicles – with at least six from the elite VIP Protection Unit – was seen crossing the Western Harbour Tunnel and headed towards Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai on Tuesday morning, simulating the arrival of the Indonesian leader on Sunday afternoon.

Leading the motorcade was a rarely-seen vehicle from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, capable of jamming nearby phone and network signals. The tunnel was closed for six minutes during the exercise.

“The threat level to Widodo himself is high as Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and is prone to terrorist attacks,” the police source said. “Recent and deadly terrorist attacks remind us to stay alert. A huge security presence during his stay is crucial.”

The source stressed that the city’s terrorism threat level itself remained “moderate”.

During the drill, a water assault team from the elite Special Duties Unit, also known as the Flying Tigers, patrolled Victoria Harbour while a helicopter flew overhead.

The threat level to Widodo himself is high
police source

It is understood Widodo will spend a night at the Conrad Hotel in Admiralty. Before leaving Hong Kong on Monday, he will meet local officials and attend business seminars jointly organised by the Indonesian consulate and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.

The police source said Widodo would be escorted around town by top officers from the VIP protection Unit.

“Elite members of the Counter Terrorism Response Unit will also make a rare showing and carry heavy weapons, including machine gun MP5s and assault rifle SIG 516s, to patrol the area wherever the president goes,” the source added. Snipers from the Special Duties Unit will be on standby.

Since January, the force’s anti-terrorism officers have been deployed to patrol the city’s railway network to beef up security in response to global terrorist attacks.

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Xi is expected to visit the city in July to administer the oath of office to chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

The source added that similar security arrangements would be made for other such visits.