Chinese military has sent a chilling warning to Hong Kong protesters as it yesterday declared it would take them just 10 minutes to reach the financial hub from the border at mainland.
Thousands of Chinese military personnel waving red flags paraded at a sports stadium in a city across the border from Hong Kong on Thursday, an AFP reporter witnessed.
Armoured vehicles were also seen inside the stadium in Shenzhen, with the event taking place as concerns build that China may intervene to end 10 weeks of unrest in Hong Kong.
Military vehicles are parked on the grounds of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in Shenzhen today. Chinese military yesterday sent a chilling warning to Hong Kong protesters
Trucks and armoured personnel carriers are seen outside the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre today. The land force of the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said in a social media post it would only take Beijing’s forces 10 minutes to reach Hong Kong
Chinese military personnel gather at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre today. The United States said yesterday that it was concerned about movements of Chinese forces on the border
Hong Kong and the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen shares a 37-kilometre-long (22-mile-long) border. The satellite images suggested the military trucks have been assembled in Shenzhen Bay, a stone’s throw from Hong Kong across the water
Satellite images taken on Tuesday showed Beijing had apparently assembled some 500 armoured vehicles to a sports centre in Shenzhen across the harbour from Hong Kong.
The United States said yesterday that it was concerned about movements of Chinese forces on the border with Hong Kong and urged Beijing to honor the territory’s autonomy as pro-democracy protests continued.
U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping to participate in face-to-face talks.
Trucks and armoured personnel carriers are seen outside the Shenzhen Bay stadium in Shenzhen today. Thousands of Chinese military personnel held drills this morning
The land force of the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) yesterday condemned the violence of Hong Kong airport demonstrators.
In a social media post, the troop also shared a picture showing military trucks parked outside Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
The sports centre, nicknamed ‘Silkworm Stadium’ for its design, looks out to Hong Kong across Shenzhen Bay.
‘The Silkworm Stadium near Shenzhen Bay is situated 56 kilometres (35 miles) from Hong Kong Airport and it takes 10 minutes to reach Hong kong from here,’ the post warned.
Eastern Theater Command is one of the five military regions in China. Its jurisdiction does not include Guangdong, the province where Shenzhen is.
The post in question has since been removed from Chinese messaging platform WeChat.
Beijing has been apparently reluctant to send in police or army units from the mainland or to mobilise the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong to quell the unrest
A potential military crackdown is seen as mindful of the devastating effect that would have both on the territory’s reputation as a safe and stable place to invest in, and as indication of the Communist Party’s failure to win over the hearts and minds of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million people
Some of the personnel inside the stadium on Thursday had armed police insignias on their camouflage fatigues. Pictured, Chinese military personnel walk at the stadium today.
State-run media reported this week the elements of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), which is under the command of the Central Military Commission, were assembling in Shenzhen
The People’s Daily and Global Times, two of the most powerful state-run media outlets, published videos on Monday of what it said was the PAP assembling in Shenzhen
The Global Times editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, said the military presence in Shenzhen was a sign that China was prepared to intervene in Hong Kong after the city was plunged into turmoil
Hong Kong has been rocked by protests over the past two months against a proposed bill that would allow people to be extradited from the city to stand trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China.
The mass display of opposition to the bill has morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement that has thrown down the most significant challenge to Beijing’s authority since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The unrest escalated dramatically this week after anti-riot police officers stormed Hong Kong International Airport and fired pepper spray at protesters during bloody clashes.
China’s Hong Kong Liaison office said yesterday that anti-government protesters were no different to ‘terrorists’ after two mainland Chinese citizens were attacked by demonstrators at the airport on Tuesday ‘for being undercover agents’.
A satellite image from Tuesday shows military vehicles parked in a stadium in Shenzhen
Chinese state media also released videos to show tanks and military trucks being mobilised
State-run media reported this week that the elements of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), which is under the command of the Central Military Commission, were assembling in Shenzhen.
Some of the personnel inside the Shenzhen stadium on Thursday had armed police insignias on their camouflage fatigues, according to the AFP reporter.
The security forces could be seen moving in formation inside the stadium, and occasionally running, while others rode around outside on motorbikes.
Outside the stadium – which is around seven kilometres (4.5 miles) from Hong Kong – there were also dozens of trucks and armoured personnel carriers.
‘I don’t know why they’re here, but it could be related to Hong Kong,’ a ticket vendor at the stadium told AFP.
Occupying 82.7 acres, Shenzhen Bay Sports Center (pictured) was completed in 2011
Shenzhen Bay Port (pictured) is one of the six ports of entry between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The port is popular with Chinese residents who regularly travel to Hong Kong to shop. As many as 190,000 people pass through the port every day
Around 12,000 Chinese armed police officers gather at the drill in Shenzhen on August 6
The People’s Daily and Global Times, two of the most powerful state-run media outlets, published videos on Monday of what it said was the PAP assembling in Shenzhen.
The Global Times editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, said the military presence in Shenzhen was a sign that China was prepared to intervene in Hong Kong.
‘If they do not pull back from the cliff and continue to push the situation further beyond the critical point, the power of the state may come to Hong Kong at any time,’ Hu wrote.
Police fire tear-gas shells to disperse Pro-Democracy protesters in the Sham Shui Po yesterday
A passerby covers her face after police personnel fired tear-gas shells to protesters yesterday
Police officers and vehicles gather while standing off with protesters during a demonstration
Police fire tear gas at anti-extradition bill protesters during clashes in Sham Shui Po yesterday
The protest took place during the month-long Hungry Ghost Festival, when offerings are made to ward off the spirits of ancestors
Trump warns China to ‘work humanely with Hong Kong’
Donald Trump invited Chinese leader Xi Jinping to participate in face-to-face talks on Wednesday evening amid mounting criticism of the American president’s response to protests in Hong Kong.
He used their flat-lined trade agreement as bait, saying that China must work with ‘work humanely with Hong Kong’ before he’ll reopen economic talks.
‘Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!’ he said in a tweet.
The ex-businessman said in a follow-up, ‘I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a “tough business.” I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?’
US President Donald Trump also said Tuesday American intelligence had confirmed Chinese troop movements toward the Hong Kong border.
‘I hope it works out for everybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully, nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed,’ Trump said.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese city, have staged 10 weeks of relentless protests to demand greater rights and liberties.
The Asian financial hub has been governed under a ‘one country, two systems’ legal framework since its handover to China from Britain in 1997.
Hong Kong allows far greater civil liberties than those on the mainland, but the protesters say those freedoms are eroding as mainland Chinese interference grows.
The protests, which have become increasingly violent and led to Hong Kong’s airport being paralysed for two days this week, have become the biggest threat to China’s rule since the handover.
The Chinese military has not interfered in Hong Kong since the handover but it can should it be called on by the city’s government to maintain ‘public order’.
President Trump stayed silent about Hong Kong on Wednesday, as he continued his vacation
Donald Trump blamed Hong Kong protesters for his faltering trade accord with China on Wednesday, as the stock market continued to plummet
James Char, a military expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said the deployment to Shenzhen was both to project an image of domestic strength as well as ‘a carefully calculated message to the protesters to think twice about growing or continuing with their recent intensified demonstrations’.
‘We can be certain the regime understands that sending in troops to Hong Kong will inflame the protests and the protesters’ anti-China grievances,’ he said.
The PAP are in charge of ‘handling riots, turmoil, seriously violent, criminal activities, terrorist attacks and other societal security incidents’, the People’s Daily said in text accompanying its video on Monday.
Chinese authorities have on two occasions this week linked violent protests in Hong Kong to ‘terrorism’. They have consistently described protesters as ‘rioters’.