CHINA BEEFS UP MILITARY PRESENCE NEAR HONG KONG
Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police marched and practiced crowd control tactics at a sports complex in Shenzhen across from Hong Kong in what some interpreted as a threat against pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous territory.
The sound of marching boots and synchronized shouts echoed from the grounds on Friday. Officers in green camouflage stood guard at closed entrances. A stadium security guard said “it wasn’t clear” when the paramilitary police would leave the grounds.
Chinese state media have only said that the Shenzhen exercises were planned earlier and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong, though they came shortly after the central government in Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the “sprouts of terrorism.”
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From a distance, police could be seen conducting drills in military fatigues, using shields, poles and other riot-control gear. In one exercise, two groups marched in formation with those in front raising shields as if to protect themselves from projectiles. Others behind held red flags and banners. The words “the law” and “prosecuted” could be seen on one.
Outside, dozens of armored carriers and trucks sat in the parking lot of the Shenzhen Bay Stadium, close to a bridge linking mainland China to Hong Kong.
Asked if Hong Kong police could maintain order or if mainland Chinese intervention is becoming inevitable, Hong Kong police commander Yeung Man-pun said that while they face tremendous pressure, “I can tell you we’re confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order.”
Germany, meanwhile, said it considers China to be a responsible actor that will respect Hong Kong laws guaranteeing freedom of speech and rule of law.
Weeks of protests in Hong Kong have been marked by increasing violence and a shutdown of the Hong Kong airport earlier this week. The demonstrators are demanding expanded political rights and the scrapping of legislation that could have seen criminal suspects sent to mainland China.
A weekend of protests began Friday night with a university student-led “power to the people” rally in Chater Garden, a public square in the financial district.
A pro-democracy march is planned for Saturday along with a separate pro-government “Save Hong Kong” rally, ahead of a major pro-democracy rally called for Sunday. Police have denied permission for the march on Sunday, but protesters have ignored such denials in the past.
China has pressured foreign and Hong Kong companies to support the ruling Communist Party’s position against the protesters.
(Excerpted from Breitbart.)
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