China’s paramilitary police staged a new anti-riot drill near the border of Hong Kong yesterday.
The exercise was carried out just hours after Beijing sent fresh troops and armoured vehicles into the semi-autonomous city in what it called a ‘routine rotation’.
It comes as the Hong Kong police arrested three young pro-democracy figureheads and banned rallies on Saturday in an effort to control the escalating unrest.
China’s paramilitary police officers march towards ‘protesters’ in staged clashes in Shenzhen on Thursday. Two other similar anti-riot drills were carried out in the city earlier this month
Beijing’s armed police officers face ‘protesters’ while holding tear gas guns at the exercise
Officers fire tear gas at ‘protesters’ who attacked them with wooden rods and umbrellas
The Communist Party has amassed hundreds of military trucks and more than 10,000 armed police officers in Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese city that borders Hong Kong, after anti-government unrest intensified this month.
Chinese military authority has previously warned that it would take Beijing’s forces just 10 minutes to reach Hong Kong from Shenzhen in a warning to protesters.
Yesterday’s drill was the third of its kind that had been held this month in Shenzhen.
In staged clashes, officers fired tear gas and sent water cannon trucks to disperse the club-wielding demonstrators who wore hardhats and black tops, the typical outfit of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
Two trucks mounted with water cannons are sent to disperse protesters at the military drill
Shield-wielding paramilitary officers march towards ‘demonstrators’ at the staged clashes
Hong Kong and the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen shares a 37-kilometre (22-mile) border
Footage released by state newspaper People’s Daily on Twitter-like Weibo shows the paramilitary officers yelling slogan ‘Listen to the Party’s command. Can win tough wars. Excellent discipline’ before the exercise.
They also chanted ‘Withdraw! Withdraw!’ to the crowds in Cantonese while marching towards them holding shields in tight formation.
The ‘protesters’ were seen attacking the police officers with wooden rods, umbrellas and trolleys which had been set on fire.
Several ‘protesters’ ended up being subdued by armed police.
Paramilitary police officers swear their loyalty to the Communist party before the drill
The ‘protesters’ wear hardhats and black tops, the typical outfit of Hong Kong demonstrators
Police tackle one of the demonstrators, played by an actor, at yesterday’s anti-riot drill
Situated in the southern part of Guangdong Province, Shenzhen has a population of some 13 million and has close economic and cultural ties with Hong Kong.
The two cities share a 37-kilometre (22-mile) border and look out to each other across Shenzhen Bay.
Footage and satellite pictures emerged in mid-August showed that China had mobilised military trucks into a sports stadium looking out to Shenzhen Bay.
Commenting on a previous similar drill, China’s Ministry of National Defence described it as a regular exercise within its annual plan.
Armored personnel carriers of China’s People’s Liberation Army pass through the Huanggang Port border between Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in the wee hours of Thursday
Soldiers from the PLA swear their unwavering loyalty to Beijing before heading to Hong Kong
Soldiers across the land, air and naval forces in the PLA were involved in the operation
A spokesperson said yesterday the drill was aimed at testing the troops’ abilities to maintain social stability.
China yesterday also sent fresh troops into Hong Kong. Beijing said the military operation, which took place in the wee hours, was a routine annual rotation.
A new mass rally has been planned for Saturday in Hong Kong.
But the city’s police denied permission for the demonstration on security grounds, raising the likelihood of another weekend of clashes between police and protesters.
The Hong Kong government said on Monday that illegal violence was pushing Hong Kong to the brink of great danger after a weekend of clashes between protesters and police. A riot police is seen shooting a tear gas canister during a protest in Tsuen Wan on August 25
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, has seen more than two months of youth-led protests that have often ended in clashes with police. Pictured, demonstrators stand behind barricades, surrounded by tear gas, during a protest in Tsuen Wan on August 25
Anti-government demonstrations have rocked Hong Kong for the past three months. Protesters are seen clashing with police after a rally in Tsuen Wan on August 25
Hong Kong police arrested three young anti-government leaders in an apparent bid to prevent further escalation of the unrest.
Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow – both 22 years old and well-known among the city’s youth – were arrested in dawn swoops today.
They have been accused of ‘inciting others to take part in unauthorised assembly’ among other charges. The pair were due in court on Friday afternoon.
Hours before, another vocal independence campaigner, 28-year-old Andy Chan, was detained at Hong Kong’s airport on his way to Japan.
In this picture taken on August 25, 2019, Abby (front, far right), 19, and her boyfriend Nick, 20, (front, second from the right) crouch down while holding hands as they wait for police to fire tear gas during a protest in Tsuen Wan, an area in the New Territories in Hong Kong
Hong Kong pro-democracy figurehead Joshua Wong was arrested today on suspicion of inciting others to take part in unauthorised assembly. The 22-year-old activist, who was freed from jail in June, is pictured on June 17 speaking to the press during a demonstration
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam (pictured) said this week that the government would consider using ‘all laws’ to prevent violence. The city’s police have banned planned rallies on Saturday
Protest groups are also calling for a general strike on Monday and Tuesday.
Cathay Pacific, the city’s flag carrier, has warned staff they risk being sacked if they join the planned strike.
The airline company has already fired at least four staff – including two pilots – for supporting the protests.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who has become a lightning rod for protesters’ anger, said this week that the government would consider using ‘all laws’ to prevent violence.
What is happening in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong protesters are demanding democratic reforms and the complete withdraw of a law bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. Protesters are pictured waving their phones in a demonstration on August 28
Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of anti-government protests for the past three months. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a proposed law that would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland China to stand trial.
Hong Kong is ruled under the ‘one country, two system’ policy and has a different legal and governing systems to mainland China. The principle was agreed on by China and the UK before the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
However, many residents of the semi-autonomous city feel that their freedoms are eroding due to the tight political grip of Beijing.
The extradition bill has been suspended indefinitely, but the rallies have morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement that calls for government reforms and universal suffrage, among others.
Protesters are also demanding an independent enquiry into what they view as excessive violence from the police during clashes.
Mass rallies, sometimes attended by as many as two million people, have taken place every weekend for 13 weeks since June 9.
Protesters have targeted government buildings, Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, shopping centres and international airport to voice their demands.
The demonstrations often started with a peaceful march or sit-in and ended up in violent clashes between activists and police.
A repeated pattern sees activists throwing items such as bricks and petrol bombs at the police and anti-riot officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the protests since June.
Beijing has described the situation in Hong Kong as the ‘worst crisis’ the city has seen since its handover in 1997. It has also called some activists ‘rioters’ and ‘near terrorists’.
It is widely believed that the central government is determined to quell the chaos before October 1 when the country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.