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An anti-terrorism drill at the Heung Yuen Wai boundary control point. Photo: Handout

Anti-terrorism drill with 100 officers staged ahead of expected visit by state leaders on Hong Kong’s 25th handover anniversary

  • Code-named ‘Defender’, operation took place ahead of expected visit by state leaders next month to mark handover and oversee swearing-in of John Lee
  • Firefighters sped to scene and officers were deployed to handle mock incident with car carrying suspected hazardous materials in simulated exercise

About 100 Hong Kong officers from three disciplined services have taken part in a drill featuring a mock terrorist with a car carrying suspected hazardous materials at a border checkpoint, ahead of an expected visit by state leaders next month.

Monday’s anti-terrorism exercise, code-named “Defender”, came ahead of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, with state leaders expected to oversee the swearing-in of John Lee Ka-chiu as chief executive on that day.

The interdepartmental exercise occurred at the Customs and Excise Department’s Inbound Private Car Examination Building of the Heung Yuen Wai boundary control point and involved officers from Hong Kong customs, the Fire Services Department and police force.

Firefighters at an anti-terrorism exercise code-named ‘defender’. Photo: Handout

“The exercise simulated the identification of a cross-boundary private car driver suspected to be related to terrorist activities, as well as the discovery of suspected hazardous material inside the car during customs clearance,” customs said in a statement on Tuesday.

Officers followed a contingency response plan to prevent leakage of the simulated dangerous material, summoned the fire department and informed the interdepartmental counterterrorism unit of the suspected terrorism-related clues for follow-up action.

Firefighters sped to the scene and officers from the hazardous materials team were deployed to handle the substance and carry out decontamination procedures.

“The exercise has raised the capability to handle counterterrorism intelligence and hazardous material incidents of the frontline officers of customs and the Fire Services Department,” customs said.

“It has also enhanced the coordination and communication between the two departments in case of emergency.”

Hong Kong to ramp up security for handover bash, guard against ‘new threats’

Customs and the fire department co-organised the operation.

While it is currently unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang will lead the central government’s delegation to the city this year, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung told the Post last week that preparations were under way to ensure guests’ safety.

“All law enforcement agencies will be in full mobilisation. Anything that happens on the 25th anniversary will become a focal point. Many people want to take advantage of the events to cause disturbance in Hong Kong. We won’t take any chances,” he said.

The Post learned earlier that two top hotels in Wan Chai – Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, where Xi stayed during his three-day visit to the city in 2017, and Grand Hyatt – are closed to guests between June 28 and July 1.

In 2017, more than a third of the city’s police force was deployed to protect Xi and his delegation during their three-day visit.