Not many people noticed this but the government secretly allocated $1.913 billion funds at the beginning of the anti-ELAB movement for site formation of about 19 hectares of land at Kong Nga Po – right next to the Chinese border and San Uk Ling Holding Centre. This will be a big step in “Xinjiang”-ising Hong Kong as the site will be used for building a gigantic police facility for counter-terrorism.
“A New Xinjiang”?
The government plans to form a site of about 19 hectares at Kong Nga Po, equivalent to one Victoria Park. It will be “a purpose-built advanced tactical training facility for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations” [PWSC(2018-19)41 Encl. 4 p. 61 note 2], isolated from the urban area, similar to the many huge counter-terrorist complexes in Xinjiang.
What will be in this facility at Kong Nga Po, or “New Xinjiang”? Not much has been publicised, but according to a plan submitted during the environmental impact assessment (in 2016), there will be firing ranges, weapons training facilities (WTF), police driving and traffic training facilities (including a multi-storey training complex), a helipad, and a proposed Police Training Facility (PTF).
When LegCo members Au Nok-hin and Ray Chan Chi-chuen asked for more details, the authorities then answered that [Chi only] the Specialist Operation Training Facility is “for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations”. There will be a “simulated urban environment as a training facility”. For weapons training facilities – WTF, surrounding firing ranges will be integrated into one big firing range so that the police can conduct an amplitude of firearm training, including pistols, rifles, shotguns. Also, the facility in Fanling – or the carpark of water cannon trucks, will be placed inside this “counter-terrorist facility” in Kong Nga Po. The police can train, from dawn to dusk, how to use these water cannon trucks or armoured vehicles with LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) in a far-flung forest without anyone knowing.
With no Osama bin Laden in Hong Kong, this kind of counter-terrorist training is clearly targeting public events, such as protests or rallies.
Integrate San Uk Ling Holding Centre into this big plan?
Weirdly enough, the government explained the purpose of this project as the relocation of firing ranges and other police facilities into a big one, but the latest plan did not include San Uk Ling Holding Centre and the nearby San Uk Ling Firing Range – these two have remained in the development plan.
So when Carrie Lam said San Uk Ling has ceased to operate, was that “suspension” or “withdrawal”? If it is not a permanent cessation, the holding centre may be integrated into this “New Xinjiang” project to become part of a counter-terrorist base. Will the holding centre become a new “re-education camp” like those in Xinjiang or a Guantanamo in the New Territories?
“New Territories” or “New Xinjiang”?
In December 2018, Secretary for Security John Lee visited counter-terrorist facilities, including a counter-terrorist tactical training centre, in Xinjiang. Lee said “reference can be drawn from the experience in Xinjiang” upon his return. Soon after, his bureau submitted this counter-terrorist base infrastructure project to ask for funding in LegCo in January 2019.
The project was not widely known because the government is good at playing with red tapes, putting this site formation project into the $33.5 billion appropriations of Northeast New Territories. While the press will focus on the demolition of villages or developers’ hegemony, no attention will be on this counter-terrorism site in “New Xinjiang”. See, everything was printed in the footnotes (note #3):
When people are focusing on Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, the government has already obtained $1.913 billion to start site formation. The tender (Contract No.: ND/2018/01) said it will begin works from November this year – next month!
Now we are just talking about $1.913 billion for site formation ONLY. For a counter-terrorism facility cluster of this scale, it is very likely to cost over $10 billion. As of now, there is no estimate breakdown of the facility’s budget. When the site formation is done, the Security Bureau can ask for whatever it wants to.
Oppose “New Xinjiang”
The police are treating streets with protesters as firing ranges nearly every day, aren’t such training of firearm enough? There is no need to have such a training facility. If a huge place like this had been made available for drills of water cannon trucks or Unimog armoured vehicles with LRAD, its lethality will be way more than what you saw weeks ago. Thus we have to oppose this $10B+ project, which is presented as a counter-terrorism facility but, in fact, will be used to train cops to attack Hongkongers.
If there is no need to build such a counter-terrorism base and site formation has been completed, the most pragmatic solution is to move the current police training school in Wong Chuk Hang – which is 18ha – into Kong Nga Po. By vacating the site on Island South, 13,000 residential flats might be built thereon, according to JLL LaSalle.
How did Xinjiang turn into what it is now? According to SCIO, there was first an “anti-terrorism” police base, then a “preventive anti-terrorism approach” was adopted, leading to the set up of “vocational education centres”, or simply “re-education camps”. If we have to prevent the Hong Kong government from adopting the “preventive anti-terrorism approach”, we cannot allow the government to infringe us under the pretext of counter-terrorism.
If we have to stop police violence, we must stop this “New Xinjiang” counter-terrorism project. If Carrie Lam does not take money from the coffer by invoking the emergency law, the Security Bureau is expected to apply for funds of this facility within this fiscal year. Please spread this message, do more and keep abreast of the latest situation – prevent Hong Kong from becoming another Xinjiang!
HKCT note: The government issued a press release to respond to rumours before the publication of this article:
Government clarifies rumours about construction of police base for counter-terrorism
In response to rumours on the Internet that the Government plans to construct a police base near San Uk Ling for counter-terrorism, a Government spokesman today (October 8) clarified that the Government does not have such a plan. The claims are totally unfounded.