Hong Kong police launch hotline for residents to inform on each other

Hong Kong police launch hotline for residents to inform on each other

Tip-offs for alleged breaches of national security law could tear city apart, says one lawyer

Hong Kong police have launched a hotline for the city’s residents to inform anonymously on anyone they allege has broken a sweeping new national security law.

Critics say the measure has disturbing echoes of surveillance methods used in mainland China, will deepen divisions in the city and could be exploited by individuals trying to settle personal, business or political scores.

The system allows people to send tip-offs via video, audio files and pictures to the police, without sharing their personal details. More than 1,000 pieces of information were submitted on Thursday, the first day of operation, the South China Morning Post reported.

The system “replicat[es] the Chinese Communist party’s model of relying on grassroots informants,” Maya Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

Hong Kong authorities said the law brought in by Beijing in June would affect only a “small minority who endanger national security”. But it has already been used to target pro-democracy politicians, activists and academics, and to curtail a year-long protest movement.