HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong police on Thursday opened a dedicated hotline for reporting violations of the national security law Beijing imposed on the city earlier this year, raising alarms over critics of the controversial legislation.
The hotline, designed to help crack down on potential crimes that endanger national security, will take photo, audio and video submissions through texts and the WeChat messaging app. The police said it will only take submissions that are related to national security, and will not disclose personal details on informers.
Many Hong Kong news outlets have slammed the hotline, saying that encouraging the city's residents to report on each other is reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution in mainland China. The service will undermine freedoms and have a chilling effect on Hong Kong, said pro-democracy lawmaker James To Kun-sun.
"It will be even harder to talk about politics in public now," said a 20-something office worker. There is concern that the hotline could deepen the rift between the city's pro-democracy and pro-Beijing factions.
Financial authorities have also begun asking banks to report any transactions that could potentially impact national security, likely in an effort to identify activists through money flows to and from foreign organizations.