Clues That China's "Garrison Rotation" In Hong Kong Is Preparation For Mainland Invasion

Some call a one-way troop movement a “rotation”. I tend to call them “buildups” or simply an “invastion”  — writes Hayman Capital's Kyle Bass. While Chinese military officials and state media are still claiming 'nothing to see here' as fresh People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops and armored vehicles have continued to pour into Hong King since early Thursday morning, the influx could mark the early phase of a looming major military crackdown from Beijing feared by many. 

As we reported earlier, while the People's Daily and other state media say it's part of a routine and planned 22nd annual rotation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong — a normally significant logistical feat given PLA troops at the garrison number between 8,000 and 10,000 troops on either side of the border — there are clear alarming signs Chinese forces are prepping specifically for riot control and crowd suppression operations

Further suggesting the timing is not just fortuitous, the major "troop rotation" is happening a mere days before anti-Beijing protesters plan to hold a large march focused on calling for "full democracy" for the semi-autonomous city. 

Some signs of what's about to come...

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What's not "routine" is that the PLA appears to be sending in gear and vehicles equipped for anti-riot operations.

State media footage appears to show WJ-03B 6X6 anti-riot Wheeled Armored Vehicles (a variant or upgrade of the WZ901 armored vehicle) moving into Hong Kong. 

These vehicles are specifically designed for People's Armed Police (PAP) anti-rioting and internal security missions, precisely what one would expect if the mainland were prepping operations to crackdown on HK democracy protests.

No mere ordinary or "routine" troop transport vehicles among the many pouring in as part of the turnover in HK garrison troops. 

Via The WJ-03B is a police version of the WZ551A chassis that is primarily meant for riot control. It has vision blocks instead of gun ports and a fully armored one man turret with 12.7mm machine gun. On the turret there are several types of gas grenade launchers. The WJ-03B is not amphibious.

Chinese-made armored military vehicles specifically modified as variants for urban riot control are evident in Thursday's footage and photos.

And further China has been staging nearby drills in urban crowd control and anti-riot control tactics. 

This follows early this month the PLA releasing a video that featured an emergency response "drill" involving Chinese troops taking positions around an mock-up urban environment. The promo video was unveiled 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 recently produced PLA "riot control" video, which The Washington Post described as showing soldiers practicing shooting protesters:

One Hong Kong lawmaker, Dennis Kwok of the Civic party said at the very least the large-scale troop movements are political posturing.

“I believe this is a deliberate posture on the part of the PLA to tell or warn the Hong Kong people that it may be deployed,” Kwok told public broadcaster RTHK, according to The Guardian.

“As I said time and again, the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong, and I would warn against any such move on the part of the central people’s government,” he said.

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If the internet goes dark, it will be a strong final sign a mainland military crackdown is underway, as The Guardian reports:

As concerns about a possible crackdown intensify in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association said on Wednesday it was troubled by reports that the local government might issue an executive order to block selective websites or applications.

It said such an order would be the “end of the open Internet of Hong Kong” and “permanently deter international businesses from positing their businesses and investments in Hong Kong”.

The group also said it would be an ineffective move as it “would not deter nor stop determined users from accessing their desired services” through a virtual private network (VPN).

Hong Kong legislator Charles Mok previously warned the government has lately considered passing emergency regulation allowing it to shutdown the internet  as has been done during prior unrest on the mainland.

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