10 October 2019

Liber Research Community: "New Xinjiang" Coming Up Next Near San Uk Ling?

[Editorial note: This English article merges two articles published by Liber Research Community on 8 & 9 Oct]
Episode 1: Use of San Uk Ling Holding Centre Suspended, But "New Xinjiang" Next to SUL Set to Commence Construction?
Translated by HKCT, written by Liber Research Community [20:39 8 Oct, Chi version]


https://www.epd.gov.hk/eia/register/report/eiareport/eia_2392016/HTML/pdf/EIA/FIG%202-1.pdf

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.

Estimates 2019-20 (SB001/Q1209, Security Bureau)

Why wasn't this reported?

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):


793CL – Site formation and infrastructure works for Police facilities in Kong Nga Po
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. 


Ends/Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Issued at HKT 15:30
NNNN


***
Episode 2: Dark Side of "New Xinjiang" Unveiled

Chinese media have reported the project [HKCT note: SCMP, The Standard and HKFP did not report this matter as of the moment of this translation] and attracted some public attention. Although the government secretly secured the funds for site formation of Kong Nga Po police facility, or "New Xinjiang", the police force will seek funding for the main works of the facility. That will not be so easy unless Carrie Lam invokes the emergency law for funding again.

As of now, the government spokesman gave a low-key response of "totally unfounded claims" without any supporting evidence, meaning Liber Research Community has totally hit the bull's eye! OK, time for us to provide more red-handed evidence.

Govt claims info unfounded, but such info was from govt!

All information provided in the entire episode 1 is cited from official documents, including the Specialist Operation Training Facility - those were from documents submitted to LegCo. The "purpose-built advanced tactical training facility for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations" was from the government as well.

"Totally unfounded"? Does that mean the government is concocting information to deceive LegCo?

From super-prison cluster to "New Xinjiang"

It is important to read more extensively before you decide. Spend 3 minutes to know the course of history so that "the devil in the detail" is unveiled:

  • 2001 - a super-prison: In 2001, Tung Chee-hwa said the prisons in Hong Kong were overcrowded, so a study was done to see whether a large prison complex can be built in Hei Ling Chau or Kong Nga Po, so that "the CSD would be able to run the 15 000 new penal places within its existing staff establishment".
  • 2003 - proposal dropped: Regina Ip, then Secretary for Security, explained that Shenzhen did not want a super-prison to be so close by, as she learnt. DAB said it was due to security grounds, so the proposal was dropped.
  • 2010-12 - building flats: With the idea of developing the border area and spotting for sites, the government asked a consultancy to conduct a feasibility study in Kong Nga Po to see whether a project with low-to-medium density residential flats are possible.
  • 2014: relocation site to accommodate police facilities - The area would no longer be used for residential flats, but would absorb all police facilities in North District after site formation. The original police facility sites were vacated for building residential flats, according to a North District Council document. Planning Department said the neighbouring San Uk Ling Firing Range induced noise pollution, and as the firing range cannot be moved, Kong Nga Po was not suitable for residential development.
  • July 2016 - submits EIA: The entire 19 ha will be used for relocating police facilities in North District, and also additional "police training facilities will be built" but the purpose remained unknown
  • December 2018 - S for S learns counter-terrorism experience from Xinjiang: Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit (ICTU) was set up in April 2018, and Secretary for Security John Lee visited Xinjiang to draw reference from them. 333 counter-terrorism exercises were conducted, including 21 large-scale drills in 2017, LegCo paper said.
  • February 2019 - counter-terrorist Specialist Operation Training Facility: project placed under $33.5 billion lump-sum appropriations of Northeast New Territories development
  • May 2019 - site formation funds secured: LegCo finance committee granted $1.913 billion funds to the site formation of Kong Nga Po and site formation works can begin in November 2019.

In short, the crucial "devil" moment occurred after 2014: first came the claim to centralise police facilities, then the mention of "training facilities" was added in 2016 with no mention of counter-terrorism in EIA. After repeated counter-terrorist drills and the Xinjiang visit, the Security Bureau asked LegCo for funds for the site formation of the project, with the indication of the facility's use for counter-terrorism only mentioned in the fine prints. Why the secrecy from the government? You got the answer.

Counter-terrorism base for sure!

When the government said "New Xinjiang" is not a counter-terrorism base, Liber Research Community carefully combed through the most recent LegCo papers and found the document:

The KNP site will also accommodate a new Specialist Operation Training Facility. This new facility together with the four other existing police training facilities to be relocated can create synergy on police training. In addition, the co-location will enhance Police’s operational efficiency. 

The reason why the facilities have to be relocated and centralised is not just about counter-terrorism, but to use this gigantic site - the size of Victoria Park - to "create synergy", so that the entire site can be used for counter-terrorism. With that, the police can use tear gas, live ammunition, water cannon trucks, fluorescent powder, LRAD (and the list goes on) concurrently in the facility. They may even put a dummy Joshua Wong in the "simulated urban environment" to practise breaking into flats and capturing a target alive. Synergy is only possible when the facilities are centralised, taking police brutality to a new level.

Questions:
  • If "New Xinjiang", or Kong Nga Po, is not going to have a counter-terrorism facility, will the Security Bureau return the $1.913 billion to the public coffer?
  • What claims are "groundless"? Those government documents submitted to LegCo?
  • The government did not mention counter-terrorism drills in the 2016 EIA. Should the government stop the permit of site formation, halt the works and do the EIA again to see the potential environmental impact>
  • Counter-terrorism facility may not be built but will it be used to build a super prison, just like Tung's suggestion?
Spread this message if you do not want Hong Kong to become another Xinjiang.

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