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The office was unveiled at a former hotel close to a city-centre park that has been one of the most popular venues for pro-democracy protests in recent months. After Beijing passed the security law last week, Mr Johnson accused it of violating the Sino-UK treat in a “clear and serious” way as he promised UK visas of Hong Kong’s 2.9 million residents.
China was quick to hit back, as the country’s ambassador to the UK accused ministers of making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong internal affairs.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said that Beijing has never meddled in the internal affairs of other countries, including the UK, and said he hoped the British would act in the same manner.
The UK Government has harshly criticised the national security law, saying it is a direct violation of a joint agreement between Britain and China which was signed in 1984.
The treaty was designed to pave a smooth road for Hong Kong to be handed back to China in 1997.
The agreement protects Hong Kong’s Basic Law, its mini-constitution.
The national security office in the island city operates beyond the scrutiny of local courts or other institutions.
Staff will oversee the Hong Kong Government’s enforcement of the sweeping national security legislation which gives its agents, operating openly in the global financial hub for the first time, enforcement powers.
It allows them to take suspects across the border for trials in Communist Party-controlled courts.
And it gives them special privileges, including that Hong Kong authorities cannot search or detain them, or even inspect their vehicles.
It was unclear how many mainland agents will be stationed in the former Metropark Hotel.
The hotel boasts 266 rooms spread across 33 storeys.
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The building is located in the shopping and commercial district of Causeway Bay, near Victoria Park.
At the opening ceremony, chief of the security office Zheng Yanxiong said he would enforce the law strictly “without infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of any individual or organisation”.
Luo Huining, head of China’s Liaison Office in the city, Beijing’s top representative office, said the office was “the gatekeeper of national security” and people who loved China and Hong Kong welcomed it.
He said: “Those with ulterior motives and who are anti-China and seek to destabilise Hong Kong have not only stigmatised the office, but also smeared the legal system and rule of law in the Chinese mainland in an attempt to stir up unnecessary worries and fears among Hong Kong residents.”
Former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has said the arrival of asylum seekers from Hong Kong would “enrich” Britain.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “If they cannot enjoy freedom under Chinese sovereignty, let them come and enjoy it under British sovereignty”
Mr Hannan added: “The arrival of several hundred thousand enterprising and industrious Hongkongers (it is vanishingly unlikely that all three million will take up the offer) will enormously boost our economy.”
Moreover, he said their departure would “impoverish China” which “has done very well out of having a low-tax, low-regulation, high-wage entrepôt on its doorstep, blessed with secure property rights, global trading links, common law norms and judges who don’t take bribes”.
The new security law punishes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
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