Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong on Monday condemned unnamed political groups for “colluding with anti-China forces” and bad-mouthing the city at a time when the country was coping with what he described as the most hostile security environment since the cold war. As he warned them against their actions, Wang Zhimin, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, also praised the recent conviction of the founders of the Occupy protest movement of 2014, calling it a validation of the city’s rule of law. Speaking at the National Security Education Day Hong Kong Symposium in Admiralty, Wang lauded the city’s work in protecting national sovereignty and upholding the governing principle of “one country, two systems”. But Hong Kong people needed to raise their “risk awareness” as China was now coping with the “most complex and capricious security environment since the end of the cold war”, he said. “Some countries are desperately trying to contain China by playing the ‘Hong Kong card’. A handful of individuals in Hong Kong are busy colluding with anti-China politicians and organisations by taking part in closed-door meetings and seminars, in an attempt to bad-mouth Hong Kong and beg for foreign intervention,” he added. Hong Kong’s former No 2 Anson Chan meets Mike Pence in Washington These individuals, whom he did not name, were paid generously in taxpayers’ money, he claimed. “But they made repeated overseas pilgrimages to sell out Hong Kong for personal gains, and are set to be despised by the people of Hong Kong and the entire nation, and by the forebearers of the Chinese people.” Last month two lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Charles Mok, were invited on a 10-day trip to the United States by the White House along with Hong Kong’s former No 2 official Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Their visit included a meeting between Chan and US Vice-President Mike Pence and discussions with members of America’s National Security Council. The trio voiced their concerns over the Hong Kong government’s proposal to allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China. They said they wanted to highlight the issue “before it was too late” and urged the US government to continue to support the city’s basic freedoms, which they said were being steadily whittled away. In his speech at the forum attended by ministers and other pro-establishment figures, Wang also addressed the convictions last week of nine leaders from the 2014 civil disobedience movement on various public nuisance charges. The charges each carry a maximum punishment of seven years in prison. The nine will be sentenced on April 24. Their conviction on April 9 “marked a momentous day for the rule of law to prevail in Hong Kong”, he said, adding that the trial had drawn a legal red line on illegal activities that endangered public security and social stability. During Occupy, tens of thousands of protesters took part in sit-in demonstrations on the streets of the city’s commercial districts for 79 days calling for universal suffrage in electing the city’s leader. Wang condemned the movement as “a wound to the rule of law, to people’s livelihoods and to society in general”, and urged Hong Kong to learn a lesson from “the pain of losing security”. Ban on Hong Kong National Party met with both cheers and fear “Without national security, Hongkongers won’t have peaceful and happy lives … Hong Kong won’t have prosperity and stability … The one country, two systems principle won’t be able to sustain itself,” Wang said. Since Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain in 1997, Beijing has ruled it under the one country, two systems principle to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy. Speaking before Wang gave his speech, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the local government supported the symposium because national security was important and covered many aspects of people’s daily lives, but she lamented that Hongkongers had only a “vague understanding and weak awareness” of it for historical reasons and due to deficient education. Lam said her administration would not sit back and allow subversive and separatist acts even though the city had not yet drafted its own national security legislation, as prescribed by Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. The government’s banning of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) last September was an example of this, according to Lam. “We are almost finished drawing up the report on handling the HKNP, which was requested by the central government in February,” she said. “I expect to submit it soon and to disclose the full report to the public, provided it doesn’t affect subsequent legal action.” The annual forum was the second one organised by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute and Hong Kong Vision, a think tank and the institute’s flagship research project, which is convened by the city’s former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. The aim is to promote public education on national security in Hong Kong. Also at the symposium were former chief executive and a current vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body, Tung Chee-hwa; Deng Zhonghua, a deputy director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; and a string of senior Hong Kong officials. They included Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, security minister John Lee Ka-chiu, constitutional and mainland affairs minister Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, and police commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung. Paul Chan in his speech said Hong Kong had played a vital role both as a proving ground for reforms and a firewall against risk for mainland China as it sought to open its market and internationalise its currency. “We clearly know that ensuring financial security in Hong Kong is not only very important for the city’s economy and society, it’s also defending national financial security,” Chan said.