Chinese army backs Hong Kong's handling of protests

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 01 2019 10:44 PM

The head of China's People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong gave full support to the local authorities' handling of protests targeting the government but stopped short of saying if the army will intervene to help maintain public order, according to media reports Thursday.

Speaking at a reception celebrating the 92nd anniversary of the PLA Wednesday night, the commander of the army's Hong Kong garrison Chen Daoxiang said the series of violent events is "not to be tolerated and strongly condemned."

The Hong Kong garrison will support Chief Executive Carrie Lam's administration in governing according to law, the Hong Kong police, and relevant government departments and the judiciary in punishing violent lawbreakers, Chen told the guests, as seen in a video clip posted by media.

Protests have been held almost every weekend since June against the government's effort to amend a law that would allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other jurisdictions.

While Lam, the territory's leader, has since suspended the legislative process in an attempt to restore calm, protesters are calling for the bill's full withdrawal.

Their demands have also grown to include greater democracy, the release of those arrested and an inquiry into alleged police misconduct.

While mostly peaceful, some of the protests have turned violent, with riot police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades to disperse the crowds.

The escalating violence between the groups has raised questions whether the Chinese military should be deployed to help bring the chaos under control. According to the Garrison Law, the Hong Kong authorities could, after seeking approval from Beijing, ask for the troops' deployment in the territory.

A three-minute video showcasing the Chinese army's might was posted on the Hong Kong garrison's official Weibo social media account late Wednesday. It includes a segment showing the army's ability to tackle terrorists and maintain public order that seemed to be targeting Hong Kong's protesters.

"All consequences are at your own risks," a soldier yelled through a speaker in Cantonese, the common dialect used in Hong Kong, in one scene, before a formation of troops equipped with anti-riot gear marched while firing what is believed tear gas at dozens of people dressed as protesters.

Armored vehicles, portable barbed wire and water cannon were showed before another scene in which scores of protesters were captured with their arms tied behind their backs.

The clip's hyperlink on the garrison's Weibo account could not be accessed Thursday.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday she has no knowledge about military deployment in Hong Kong. However, she added that the Hong Kong garrison "will continue to be the anchor for maintaining Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability."