Beijing’s top representative in Hong Kong said on Thursday that any foreign powers that try to use the global financial center as a pawn will face counter measures, amid escalating tensions between the city and Western governments.
Luo Huining, the director at China’s Hong Kong Liaison Office, was speaking at a ceremony to mark National Security Education Day, which authorities have organized to promote the sweeping legislation China imposed last year.
“We will give a lesson to all foreign forces which intend to use Hong Kong as a pawn,” Luo said.
The new law drew criticism from the West for curbing rights and freedoms in the former British colony, which was promised a high degree of autonomy upon its 1997 return to Chinese rule. Its supporters say it has restored order following mass anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019.
China, the US, Britain and the European Union have traded sanctions over the past year as the security law and measures taken to reduce democratic representation in the city’s institutions exacerbated tensions.
Earlier this week, a letter signed by more than 100 British politicians asked Boris Johnson’s government to expand a list of Chinese officials accused of “gross human rights abuses”.
National Security Education Day will be marked with school activities, games and shows, and a parade by police and other services performing the Chinese military’s “goose step” march.
In line with Beijing’s increased assertiveness, the Chinese routine, in which troops keep their legs rigidly straight when lifting them off the ground and arms swing at a 90-degree angle in front of the chest, will replace British-style foot drills at a parade of police and other forces.
Elsewhere, in schools and cultural centers, Hong Kongers were invited to build national security “mosaic walls” to instill, according to a government website, the idea that people should work together to protect their homeland.
Stickers and bookmarks reading “Uphold National Security, Safeguard our Home” have been delivered to schools and kindergartens.
In February, Hong Kong unveiled national security education guidelines that include teaching students as young as six about colluding with foreign forces, terrorism, secession and subversion – the four main crimes in the new law.