SCMP Saturday, May 5, 2001

Police increase security checks ahead of forum


Updated at 2.36pm, Saturday:
Police, bracing for possible protests from several groups including the Falun Gong spiritual movement, stepped up security checks on Saturday at the venue of a top business and government leaders meeting.
Ahead of next week's Fortune Global Forum, police said they had received protest applications from five groups including Falun Gong, the environmental group Greenpeace and mainland activists lobbying for Hong Kong residency.
The three-day conference which opens on Tuesday will feature President Jiang Zemin, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, former US President Bill Clinton, and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. More than 600 CEOs and managing directors are expected to be present.
Seeking to avoid the violent protests that disrupted recent world financial meetings, Hong Kong police said on Friday they would throw a tight cordon around the conference at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Police will deploy 3,000 officers to handle security, compared with 2,000 during the handover ceremony to mark the transfer of sovereignty to Beijing.
On Saturday, policemen, wearing gas masks and oxygen tanks, checked the sewers near the Convention Centre, while police divers combed the seabed near the waterfront site. Police sniffer dogs also checked for explosives.
Mr Jiang's visit is expected to draw large protests from members of the Falun Gong movement, which is outlawed in the mainland but remains legal in Hong Kong.
Protesters would be kept a few hundred yards away from the guests, police said.
Police have said they would allow peaceful demonstrations as long as they were legal and did not pose a danger to others.