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HK Gears up for WTO Meeting

Despite anti-globalization groups' warning to stage demonstrations, Hong Kong is gearing up to hold a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) coming on Dec. 13.

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said Monday afternoon the city is well prepared for the WTO conference, while giving out a whole set of rules to regulate traffic, security and public order during the meeting to be held from Dec. 13 to 18.

Streets, public service and sea areas close to the meeting venue, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center facing the Victoria Harbor, will become inaccessible to the public and open only to those holding a special badge.

Certain routes of Star Ferry, the vessel transporting public commuters across the Harbor, will stop operating in the period.

A total of 9,000 police will be deployed to guarantee the security of the conference, which will be participated by some 11,000 people from the world.

It could be the biggest police operation of HKSAR in terms of manpower resources being deployed, said the police.

With the conference drawing close, local press has run more stories on anti-globalization NGOs' warning to stage protests around the meeting venue.

South China Morning Post reported that some companies and agencies near the meeting venue have spent large amount of money on temporary relocation to avoid inconvenience to be caused by the event.

Meanwhile, the government has marked places for protesters to demonstrate and said there would be no lenience to violence, but denied there's any "blacklist" for violent protesters.

"Should groups or individuals behave in a way that threatens to disrupt the conference, threatens the personal safety of others, causes extensive damage to property, or causes serious disruption of traffic at major thoroughfares, they will expect nothing but resolute action from the Police," said a police officer overseeing the security arrangement for the meeting.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2005)

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