Hong Kong to consider asking mainland China authorities to help in event of repeat of Typhoon Mangkhut, says city’s security chief
- John Lee floats possibility as one option being considered by government in event natural disaster strikes
- Democratic Party lawmaker says any help should be welcomed in event city cannot cope with aftermath of a storm
Hong Kong’s security chief has said the city may consider requesting help from mainland China in the event of future natural disasters like Typhoon Mangkhut.
John Lee Ka-chiu, the Secretary for Security, said the government was exploring what outside help could be used in the event of a serious storm hitting Hong Kong.
Lee made his comments on Saturday during a panel discussion at the Fight Crime Conference, which was held at the Central Government’s offices in Admiralty.
“Apart from organising resources within government departments, we can see whether backup resources and manpower can be sourced externally,” Lee said. “Also, we can consider what help the mainland can provide.”
Although no one died during Mangkhut, more than 100 people were injured in Hong Kong during the September storm.
Apart from severe flooding in low-lying areas of the city, the typhoon also uprooted 17,000 trees, leaving 1,000 roads blocked.
For the first time, more than 400 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army stationed in Hong Kong were sent out to country parks with chainsaws to clear trees and debris.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said at the time the government had not requested the help, but said it was “intended for Hong Kong’s good”.
The appearance of PLA soldiers was criticised over fears the garrison may have acted off its own free will.
Hong Kong’s Garrison Law stipulates that soldiers can be called out to help with disaster relief if requested by the Hong Kong government, though such a request has not been made since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Lee earlier classified the incident as an act of charity, and said there was no need for the garrison to seek approval before taking such action.
On Saturday, a Security Bureau spokesman said mainland authorities had also expressed a willingness to provide help in salvaging ships.
He said the government was still studying the option.
“The bureau is studying how to strengthen the government’s ability in disaster relief and restoration,” he said.
The spokesman also said the bureau had been looking into the possibility of mainland emergency response departments lending local authorities tools and equipment for handling disasters, and the aftermath.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said more help would be beneficial, should the city face a situation it cannot handle alone.
“We should welcome helping hands from all over the world, including those from the mainland,” To said.
He pointed out that it was common for foreign countries to offer help to places during crisis situations, often providing the use of cutting-edge rescue equipment and technology.