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A lockdown will be launched before midnight on Tuesday around the high-speed rail terminus in West Kowloon. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Hong Kong to ban drones as part of security blanket for Xi Jinping’s visit to mark 25th anniversary of handover

  • Other measures include multiple patrol posts lining perimeter of West Kowloon railway station and road closures near Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Chinese leader expected to arrive on Thursday and be ushered into bulletproof limousine indoors
Police will ban the use of drones across Hong Kong, seal off a train station and close roads in a security blanket for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit for the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover later this week.

The force on Tuesday said that while the threat level remained “moderate”, the ban on drones was made after a “strict risk assessment” that took into consideration the practice of overseas authorities, technological advances with the aircraft and their use in carrying out a potential attack.

Assistant Police Commissioner for Operations Lui Kam-ho also warned that authorities would not allow any acts of violence or public disorder.

“We will not tolerate anything that may interfere and undermine the security operation in any event [or] that any person behaves in a manner that threatens life or property and undermines public order or endangers public safety,” he said. “We will take resolute action.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to arrive in Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Xinhua

Xi is expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon at the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus and will be escorted into a bulletproof limousine indoors before his convoy leaves the station. A source said preparations for the lockdown around the station would begin before midnight on Tuesday.

Police will set up posts spaced 10 to 20 metres apart along Wui Man Road, Lin Cheung Road and Jordan Road, in addition to relying on water-filled barricades to control access, according to government sources.

“At least four officers will be deployed to patrol between two posts regularly,” one insider said, adding that beyond the high-security area, police would also be on guard along stretches such as Nga Cheung Road, Canton Road and Austin Road West.

The insider said high-rise observation posts would also be set up in the area.

Across Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island, police are restricting access to the area around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai, where the main ceremonies, including the inauguration of the new government of John Lee Ka-chiu, will be held.


Over the weekend, police put up large water-filled barriers around the convention centre, including along Harbour Road, and around the square.

Police also announced road closures around the exhibition centre starting at 2am on Wednesday. The public transport interchange at the nearby Exhibition Centre station will be shut at the same time, with 18 bus routes affected. The MTR station will be closed from 1am on Thursday, according to the force.

Xi Jinping expected on 2-day trip to Hong Kong ‘but will not stay overnight’

“We are actually maintaining close contact with our counterparts, making sure of the latest updates,” Lui said. “If there is any latest change in our president’s visit programme, we will correspondingly adjust our security measures and deployment in order to reduce or minimise inconvenience caused to members of the public. That is also our important concern.”

In addition to the citywide ban on drones, the Civil Aviation Department will designate a temporary restricted flying zone in the vicinity of Victoria Harbour and several other areas, according to Lui. A restricted area was also established in waters off the exhibition centre at 1pm on Tuesday and would remain in place until 11.59pm on Friday, the Marine Department said.

Bodyguards escort a car ferrying Chinese President Xi Jinping after his arrival at the airport in Hong Kong on June 29, 2017. Xi will be escorted into a bulletproof limousine after arriving via a high-speed train this time. Photo: Reuters

Another source said a heavy police presence and high-profile patrols would be deployed at the West Kowloon Cultural District, although the president was not expected to visit the Hong Kong Palace Museum there.

The Hong Kong Science Park, which Xi is expected to visit, has issued a notice to companies and staff, saying it will implement special arrangements and set up security checkpoints from Thursday. The Transport Department also said special arrangements would be in force from Wednesday to Thursday to facilitate police operations.

According to the department, some of the roads in the area would be temporarily closed to traffic “until completion of the operation”.

The Hong Kong Science Park in Sha Tin, where Xi is expected to visit. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Xi will not stay overnight in the city and is expected to return to Shenzhen by train.

The Shenzhen government on Tuesday said that to ensure celebrations proceeded smoothly, all drones, light aircraft and helicopters, among other “flying objects”, would be banned in the city between June 28 and July 3. Only flight activities such as aerial photography, television broadcasts, police operations and emergency rescues that had been approved for the handover anniversary would be exempted.

The president is expected to return to Hong Kong by high-speed train on Friday morning. He will officiate at a ceremony to mark the handover anniversary and oversee the swearing-in of Lee and his cabinet at the exhibition centre. After the ceremony, Xi will leave the city.

Lui maintained that the police fully respected the right of people to stage protests, public meetings and demonstrations. He added the force would introduce designated public activity areas just outside its security zones during the visit.

Xi Jinping to attend Hong Kong 25th anniversary event – but it could be a day visit

“The measure, again, is a balance of the people’s right to stage public meetings [or] processions and our responsibility to make sure the personal safety of our president,” he said.

The force said it has not received any applications for public gatherings during the visit by Xi as of Tuesday.

Opposition group League of Social Democrats, which had often protested on July 1 in the past, had decided against staging a demonstration this year after assessing the situation, saying “some of their friends and volunteers were called to a meeting with the national security police” on Tuesday.

“The situation is difficult and details cannot be disclosed,” group chairwoman Chan Po-ying said.

The Post has learned that the president’s itinerary could be subject to last-minute changes or cancellation due to various factors, such as the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong, where case numbers have risen over the past two weeks.

Additional reporting by Chester Wong and Charmaine Choi