China rotates new batch of troops into Hong Kong

Marco Green
August 30, 2019

Hong Kong authorities on Friday charged pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong with organizing an illegal protest as they tighten a clampdown on unrest that has plunged the Asian financial hub into its biggest political crisis in more than two decades.

Any request would have to go first to China's Cabinet and then to the Guangzhou military command that is in charge of the Hong Kong garrison, she said.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas at anti-government demonstrators on Sunday, and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned later that authorities would be forced to stamp down on the escalating violence.

China's role in directing how Hong Kong handles the protests has been widely assumed, supported by stern statements in state media about the country's sovereignty and protesters' "radical" goals.

Reuters witnesses on Thursday saw significantly more activity in and around the PLA's Shek Kong military base in the rural New Territories than has been apparent in recent months.

China has denounced the protests and accused the United States and Britain of interfering in its affairs in Hong Kong. It has sent clear warnings that forceful intervention is possible.

However, there may come a stage when Hong Kong has to do this, Tam said.

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) said Hong Kong faced an unprecedented test of the "one country, two systems" formula it has been ruled under since 1997.

That was not in Thursday's announcement.

For instance, officials have likened some protests to "terrorism", Chinese paramilitary police have conducted drills near the border, several Hong Kong companies have been pressured to suspend staff supporting the protests, and security personnel have searched the digital devices of some travellers entering China.

Another officials, with close ties to senior Hong Kong official, told the agency: "They said no.The situation is far more complicated than most people realize".

"AmCham believes that Hong Kong still stands apart from its rivals in the region due to a combination of competitive advantages, including the rule of law, individual freedoms and its deep pool of talent", it said.

The official confirmed Beijing had rejected giving in to any of the protesters' demands and wanted Lam's administration to take more initiative.

While Beijing said the deployment of troops for a rotation was routine, and diplomats said it was expected, many residents and businesses in the city are on edge.

The garrison troops would fulfill their obligation of defending Hong Kong according to the law and would follow the orders of the Communist Party, he added.

They had the confidence, determination and capability to "protect and defend Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability".

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) climbed 0.8%, while China's Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) rose 0.5%.

"While the SAR government has so far not felt the need to call on the garrison, that does not mean it will not do so should the situation demand it", the China Daily editorial said.

The Chinese government rebuffed a suggestion by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) to yield to at least some of the protesters' five key demands, according to sources who spoke to Reuters. He was not hurt but a friend who tried to protect him suffered injuries to his arm.

Ahead of the September 1 deadline, Washington and Beijing indicated they would resume trade talks, with Trump saying some discussions were taking place and that more are scheduled.

"In reality, the headlines are extremely innocuous and don't differ from what China has said in the past but they crossed during a dead zone of liquidity and attendance and as a result are having an outsized influence on trading", JPMorgan said.

The extradition bill is one of the key issues that has helped drive the protests, which have drawn millions of people into the streets of Hong Kong.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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