President Xi Jinping may stay in a less exclusive hotel as an extra safety measure during Hong Kong visit

Two-tonne barricades will ring area in Wan Chai, while police are monitoring political radicals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 June, 2017, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 9:08am

For security reasons, President Xi Jinping and his wife could break with the tradition of leaders staying in a top hotel and opt for the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Wan Chai during their three-day visit to the city, the Post has learnt.

His delegation will be in the adjacent, more exclusive, Grand Hyatt and both hotels will be closed to other guests. The key factor favouring the Renaissance is that the site allows the president to get into a bulletproof limousine under cover of a roof.

Xi is visiting Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty and to oversee the swearing-in of a new chief executive.

The Post could not confirm whether the presidential suite at the Renaissance has bulletproof windows. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, and state leader Zhang Dejiang stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which is equipped with bulletproof windows, when Hu visited in 2007 and 2012 and Zhang came in May last year.

Security sources said police were still carrying out risk assessments and the accommodation arrangements for Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan could be changed before their arrival on Thursday.

Building work on the Wan Chai waterfront has been suspended meanwhile and police are monitoring political activists ahead of Xi’s arrival, according to the sources.

And to prevent vehicle attacks, about 300 barricades, weighing two tonnes each, will ring the two hotels and the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“For security reasons, no other guests will be allowed to check in to the two hotels during the president’s visit,” one security source said. This means more than 1,300 rooms will be closed to people outside Xi’s entourage for three nights.

The Renaissance’s 861 rooms and the Grand Hyatt’s 545 rooms are fully booked until July 2. The presidential suite at the Renaissance costs HK$28,000 compared with HK$88,000 at the Grand Hyatt.

Cheng Yiu-mo, assistant commissioner of police (operations), said the security zone in Wan Chai was bigger than during previous operations and necessary in view of recent terror attacks overseas.

He said a restricted flying zone above Wan Chai and Victoria Harbour would also be in place between 9am on Thursday and 6pm on Saturday with the deployment of Government Flying Service helicopters.

More than 10 marine police boats are expected to conduct 24-hour patrols around Victoria Harbour.

Intelligence officers are understood to be monitoring radical protesters. “It is necessary because police will have to guard against any eventuality,” another source said.

About 11,000 of the city’s 29,000 police officers will be involved in the security arrangements.

A source said police had determined the risk level for the president’s visit as “high” – the same level as a recent visit of the Pakistani prime minister – but the city’s overall terrorism threat level remained “moderate”.

On July 1, Xi will oversee the swearing-in of the Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at the convention centre.

So far police have received nine applications for protests in Wan Chai north.

Cheng stressed that police would not tolerate any violence or public disorder and any threat to the personal safety of the president and officers would be met with resolute measures.