The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) is sending almost 300 members to the World Police and Fire Games, which opened July 28 in Winnipeg.
But Global Affairs Canada (GAC) says they are not allowed to act as police while visiting for the Olympic-style multisport festival, which runs through Aug. 6.
“We reiterate that the Hong Kong authorities have no jurisdiction in applying the law within our borders,” said GAC spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod. “Canada strongly opposes any attempt to intimidate or silence anyone residing in Canada.”
A statement from the organizing committee in Winnipeg said it was “not allowed to share with the public how many people from which country and how many sports/events they are registered in as it is private information.”
However, the duty officer in the public relations wing of the HKPF, who did not provide a name, said 287 members are going to Winnipeg for the event. They will compete in: adventure, archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, bodybuilding, boxing, cycling, dragon boat, football, golfing, judo, rowing, rugby, shooting swimming, table tennis, 10-pin bowling and volleyball.
MacLeod said the government has condemned Hong Kong authorities for issuing warrants and offering cash rewards for the return of eight pro-democracy advocates living overseas, including some with ties to Canada.
Anyone experiencing foreign interference or state-backed harassment and intimidation should contact their local police and the RCMP National Security Information Network, MacLeod said.
A Vancouver human rights activist said HKPF officers have brutally attacked innocent Hong Kongers and she fears their presence in Winnipeg will cause particular stress for any Hong Konger living there in exile.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for such a dictatorship, the city police, who have cracked down on Hong Kongers’ fight for the basic rights, to be in Canada,” said Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement.
Tung said when Canada hosts such an event, it should only do so by ensuring that visiting police officers represent cities or countries “that have the same universal value as Canadians.”
When the People’s Republic of China took over Hong Kong from the U.K. in 1997, it promised the former colony would operate, business as usual, under a “one country, two systems” style of government for 50 years after the handover. That effectively ended in 2020 with the imposition of a national security law that resulted in HKPF officers arresting peaceful protesters, journalists and lawyers and shutting down media companies.
The World Police and Fire Games launched in 1985 in San Jose, Calif. and are held every two years. The 2023 edition is the fifth in Canada, after Vancouver hosted in 1989 and 2009, Quebec City in 2005 and Calgary in 1997.
Province of Manitoba is paying $4.9 million of the $17 million cost to stage the Games, which will see more than 5,000 police, fire and other first responders compete in 63 events at 34 venues. The Games also got a $2 million grant from federal taxpayers in 2019, via Western Economic Diversification Canada, for a smart cities technology exhibition to showcase law enforcement software and records management systems.
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