Just on the heels of new reports of a significant build-up of Chinese security forces on Hong Kong's border, with the White House monitoring what an admin official described as "a congregation of Chinese forces" outside the city, the chief of the Chinese military garrison in Hong Kong has warned that the army stands ready to "protect" Chinese sovereignty.
A military crackdown could be imminent, as we warned earlier, against the massive anti-Beijing protests which have gripped Hong Kong over the past month, and which last week escalated to vandal attacks on the central government’s liaison office in the semi-autonomous city, as The New York Times reported.
Further upping the ante, new threatening footage showing an emergency response "drill" involving Chinese troops taking positions around the city was unveiled by the military on Wednesday at an event honoring the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Hong Kong garrison. The footage was described as "a promotional video showing various activities and stating that troops stationed in the city were able to protect its long-term stability."
The PLA's Hong Kong garrison commander Chen Daoxiang firmly asserted that continuing unrest on the streets in Hong Kong would "not be tolerated" while playing the promo video which included a scene of a soldier shouting in Cantonese during an anti-riot exercise: “All consequences are at your own risk.”
The new PLA "riot control" video, which The Washington Post described as showing soldiers practicing shooting protesters:
The caption on the video says: “The PLA’s Hong Kong Garrison is an important embodiment of China’s national sovereignty, a vital force of safeguarding the ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ and a cornerstone in maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. What we have been doing is preparing for war, training hard on enemy-killing skills, and keep our weapons ready and always ready to attack!” — The Washington Post
Daoxiang said, according to the South China Morning Post: “Recently, there have been a series of extremely violent incidents happening in Hong Kong,” and added, “This has damaged the prosperity and stability of the city, and challenged the rule of law and social order.”
“The incidents have seriously threatened the life and safety of Hong Kong citizens, and violated the bottom line of ‘one country, two systems’,” he said, and concluded, “This should not be tolerated and we express our strong condemnation.”
SCMP's commentary noted it was the first time the key Hong Kong PLA commander commented on the growing Hong Kong protests, which were triggered in reaction to the city’s controversial extradition bill.
PLA #HongKong garrison shows its commitment to safeguarding the country's sovereignty and security, as well as Hong Kong's prosperity and stability through a video released on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/GlOI9K56Yw— China News 中国新闻网 (@Echinanews) August 1, 2019
Last week Chinese military leaders hinted that People's Liberation Army troops could be used to quell the protests following widespread claims of "attacks" on the central government’s liaison office in the city. Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, said at the time, “That absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
And yesterday an unnamed White House official described to Bloomberg evidence of a Chinese security force build up on Hong Kong's border, though few details were given: "The nature of the Chinese buildup wasn’t clear; the official said that units of the Chinese military or armed police had gathered at the border with Hong Kong. The official briefed reporters on condition he not be identified," according to the report.