China to expand top office in Hong Kong with national security and propaganda departments

Sun Online Desk

26th May, 2021 08:58:01 PM printer

China to expand top office in Hong Kong with national security and propaganda departments

As the Chinese government continues to reform Hong Kong's legislative process, Beijing's top office overseeing the city's affairs will be expanded to create two new departments covering national security and propaganda in the communist country's bid to win the "ideological battle" here.

The new department responsible for national security affairs under the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) will be led by former liaison office legal affairs director Wang Zhenmin, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported citing multiple mainland Chinese sources.

Yang Guang, one of the spokesperson for the HKMAO, who previously slammed Hong Kong's anti-government protests in 2019, is expected to head the department tasked with managing media outlets and public opinion in the city.

"The creation of extra departments within the agency makes sense as it is facing a bigger workload after the implementation of the national security law," a mainland source familiar with Hong Kong affairs said.

Subversion was made a criminally punishable offence in Hong Kong last year under the draconian Beijing-drafted national security law, which criminalises activities related to terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power and collusion with foreign forces. Local pro-democracy activists and certain Western nations claim that the law undermines Hong Kong's civil liberties and democratic freedoms.

Another source informed that the new propaganda department would take up part of the work from the office's liaison department and cater to the increasing needs to disseminate official information, reported SCMP.

This was part of the revamp of the central government's agencies handling Hong Kong affairs, while one more department could be created to coordinate the works of various departments of the HKMAO.

Currently, there are seven departments in the HKMAO -- secretary and administration, general affairs, policy and research, liaison, exchange and cooperation, law, and institutional party committee (personnel).

Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu and pro-establishment academic Lau Siu-kai regarded the expansion as a "systemic approach" by Beijing to enhance 'ideological security' in Hong Kong.

Beijing was perturbed by violent anti-government protests in 2019 and has imposed the national security law to take action against those who protested against the government.

Despite fierce international condemnation, China last month approved a contentious resolution to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral process, a move that critics say could further smother opposition voices in the city.

China's recent steps have raised concerns that Beijing might be rejecting the 'one country two systems' made to Hong Kong in 1997. Several countries have condemned Beijing's move to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system.

Source: ANI


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