Hong Kong watchers were startled, asking if "this was it", when videos and images started emerging of Chinese troops and armored trucks entering Hong Kong.
Subsequent media reports, notably from the People's Daily, suggested that this military maneuver which took place in the "wee hours of Thursday", was due to the 22nd annual rotation of the People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong.
The #HongKong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army conducted the 22nd rotation of its members in the wee hours of Thursday since it began garrisoning Hong Kong in 1997. pic.twitter.com/MMqaZCCRov— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) August 29, 2019
Local media reported that the move, approved by the Central Military Commission, "is normal routine annual rotation in line with the Law of the People's Republic of China on Garrisoning the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which stipulates that "the Hong Kong Garrison shall practice a system of rotation of its members."
Still, one can't help but wonder at the curious timing of the annual troop rotation, taking place just as Hong Kong protesters brace for even more demonstrations against China, and as Carrie Lam prepares to invoke an Emergency Regulations Ordinance, according to which "The HK government can legally take your property, force you to work for the benefit of the government, deport you (to China?)...and make anything they do legal."
Anyone read the Emergency Regulations Ordinance that carrie lam(b) is considering invoking?! The HK government can legally take your property, force you to work for the benefit of the government, deport you (to China?)...and make anything they do legal 1/ https://t.co/DFWwJbiNP1— Kyle Bass (@Jkylebass) August 29, 2019
So is China's troop deployment nothing but a "routine and planned" mission, or is China taking advantage of an simple pretext to beef up its HK presence ahead of what many have said will be critical clashes? We'll find out soon enough: one way or another Beijing will need to resolve the ongoing HK mutiny before the October 1, National Day of the PRC holiday, when Xi will be compelled to demonstrate to China (and the world) that he remains fully in control over Hong Kong.