Beijing has officially opened its new office for national security agents to operate in Hong Kong, transforming a hotel in Causeway Bay into the force's temporary headquarters.
The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay has become the base for the Central government's Office for Safeguarding National Security – at least for the time being.
It's located just some steps away from Victoria Park – the place where many pro-democracy protests begin, and has for years hosted the June 4 vigil that commemorates the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
The hotel will now be used by Beijing agents who're allowed to operate here under the newly enacted national security law targeting acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion.
An inauguration ceremony that lasted about half an hour was held on Wednesday morning outside the hotel entrance, on Tung Lo Wan Road.
The office's director, Zheng Yanxiong, made an appearance and spoke in front of dozens of local government officials and pro-Beijing figures at the ceremony.
He stressed that he and his agents will abide by the law when they work, and will not infringe on the legal rights of anyone or any organisations.
The Beijing official, who had previously handled the Wukan protests in Guangdong, said his office will enhance communications with the liaison office and the Hong Kong Garrison, in doing their jobs.
The Chief Executive Carrie Lam was also present, and described the opening of the new office as a 'historical moment'.
She said the SAR government, and the committee on national security that she's chairing, will set up a "coordination mechanism" with the newly set up office to strengthen the sharing of information and operations on the matter.
The head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, Luo Huining, also spoke about the importance of the office here, describing it as "the gatekeeper of national security".
Two former CEs – Tung Chee-hwa and CY Leung – were also seen at the ceremony as they joined to unveil a plaque bearing the security agency's name at the front of the building.
A national flag has also been hoisted outside the building and a national emblem has been placed on the building.
Huge water barriers have also been set up overnight ahead of the ceremony and Police Commissioner Chris Tang had paid a visit during the work. Authorities had not sent out invitations to local media to attend the opening ceremony.
Last updated: 2020-07-08 HKT 12:05