Military vehicles are parked on the grounds of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in Shenzhen, China, on Thursday. Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter
world

Chinese paramilitary forces exercise near Hong Kong

44 Comments
By Brenda Goh and Greg Torode

Hundreds of China's People's Armed Police conducted exercises at a sports stadium in Shenzhen on Thursday, as the U.S. State Department expressed concern that they could be deployed across the border in Hong Kong to break up protests wracking the city.

But Western and Asian diplomats in Hong Kong said Beijing has little appetite for rolling the PAP or the People's Liberation Army onto Hong Kong's streets.

Men in fatigues could be seen in a stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, and shouts and whistles could be heard by a Reuters journalist on Thursday morning.

Later in the day, police carried out exercises in which they divided into two groups, one wearing black t-shirts similar to those worn by some protesters in Hong Kong.

The other group remained in uniform and picked up crowd-control shields and practised charging at the first group.

"This is the first time I've seen such a large-scale meeting," said Yang Ying, a receptionist at a wellness center inside the retail complex at the stadium.

"There have been exercises in the past, but usually they involve traffic police," she added. "Our friends, social media, all say it's because of Hong Kong."

Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontations between police and protesters have plunged the city into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

The protests represent one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

On Wednesday the U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned about reports that Chinese police forces were gathering near the border with Hong Kong and urged the city's government to respect freedom of speech.

In Shenzhen, paramilitary police marched in and out of the stadium near a retail complex where shoppers milled about.

The stadium parking lot was filled with more than 100 dark-painted paramilitary vehicles, including troop trucks, armoured personnel carriers, buses and jeeps. At least three were armoured front-end loaders, and two vehicles carried water cannons.

A policeman patrolling the area told Reuters journalists the paramilitary police were guarding a basketball tournament.

Chinese state media have made several mentions of exercises in Shenzhen.

The Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, published a slick video this week showing columns of trucks and armoured personnel carriers rolling through the city.

The paper said the vehicles belonged to the People's Armed Police and had gathered for "apparent-large scale exercises." Its editor, Hu Xijin, described it on Twitter as "a clear warning to rioters in Hong Kong."

The Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper said on the social media platform Weibo that the force handles incidents that include riots and terrorist attacks.

"There is usually PAP in Shenzhen, but this time it appears to be directed against Hong Kong," said a taxi driver, who gave his surname as Wang. "Usually they wouldn't hold such a big exercise."

Still, diplomats in Hong Kong said they believe China's leadership is well aware that moving mainland forces into Hong Kong would shatter international faith in the "one country, two systems" model at the heart of the city's role as a global financial hub, and would swiftly lead to sanctions.

"We are seeing an escalation in the posturing that appears designed to send messages to both Hong Kong and the mainland ... but we are confident we are still in the realms of propaganda here," one senior Western envoy told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. "The trucks aren't about to roll at this point."

Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based security analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said it would take a far more serious situation to trigger such a move.

"I think we'd really need to see a total breakdown and a sense that China's national interests were at great risk and could not be protected by the Hong Kong government and its police," he said.

Worst-case scenarios, he said, could involve the assassination or kidnapping of Chinese officials in Hong Kong, the sacking and occupation of key offices there or the government losing control of parts of the police force.

"We're a long way from anything like that yet, so I think what we are seeing is harder posturing that is part of a much broader propaganda effort underway on many fronts," he said.

The Shenzhen stadium sits across the water from Hong Kong's rural hinterland, near a bridge straddling the border.

People working around the stadium said the level of PAP activity was higher than they had ever seen, but not disruptive, as the troops usually kept to themselves.

The chief disruption was PAP vehicles occupying parking spaces, and people who worked in the area said they had been told not to share pictures of vehicles.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

44 Comments
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Here it comes! If the rioters continue, the troops will come in and martial law will be imposed. They were warned.

Let's hope it doesn't escalate to that point, but don't underestimate Xi; he's ruthless, despite that disarming panda bear smile.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Here it comes! If the rioters continue, the troops will come in and martial law will be imposed. They were warned.

It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to what would be essentially the same thing as when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

Modern Chinese leaders, including Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao, and Deng Xiaoping, have shown they're not afraid to have huge numbers of their own people killed.

I hope Xi and his CDC oligarchs won't follow their footsteps.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The double standards and hypocrisy are astonishing. Can you imagine if there were rioters in the United States throwing bombs at the police, destroying private property and blocking airports? Is there anybody here that can honestly tell me the US government wouldn't send the military after just 24 hours and beat to death the protesters? Why imagine when we have an abundance of real life examples. Remember the Ferguson, Missouri unrest? Less than 200 people gathered, broke few windows and trashed the streets. Within 24 hours the US government sent in the military to forcefully crack down on protestors. They didn't just warn them, they literally used guns and weapons to shut them down. Can you imagine if there was a riot in California calling for California to be independent from the US, closing down airports and burning buildings, attacking the police and flying Mexican flags? You can bet your ass the US government would send in the military and there's going to be a bloodshed in California. And yet, rioters in Hong Kong have been inciting chaos on the streets for over a month now, attacking the police, destroying buildings, closing airports, and the English media threatens China "don't you dare try to stop these freedom fighters". Astonishing hypocrisy and double standards. I don't remember any media threatening Spain when they cracked down on pro-democracy protestors in Barcelona when they organized a vote and protested for a month, or even the ongoing French freedom fighting protestors.

The media is the new king. And the king is trying to protect his firm control over the narrative. That's all there is to it. Truth to these people means absolutely nothing. Zero. Truly the enemy of the people. 100 years from now, people would look back on us and feeling sorry how brainwashed and deceived we all were.

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

IloveCoffee, The Federal US military is forbidden to take action inside the USA (The Posse Comitatus Act), so that is wrong. 18 U.S.C. § 1385 (adopted 1878).

What does any of this have to do with China and Hong Kong? Hint: NOTHING

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I fear Hong Kong is about to become Tibet 2.0

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Strangerland:  "essentially the same thing as when Iraq invaded Kuwait."

Kuwait is a sovereign state, HK is not, it is part of China. No similarity whatever. Every nation, including China, has a obligation to maintain law and order and protect its infrastructure. Not nation will tolerate indefinitely RIOTING and do nothing. Compare China's response with the response of France, Spain, India... against RIOTERS. Compare the British response when the people in HK rioted against the British, Compare the British response to Irish demonstrators/rioter. Compare US response during the Jackson State and Kent State demonstrators.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to what would be essentially the same thing as when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

It'll be interesting, but your comparison with Iraq is way over the top. Hong Kong is recognised as Chinese territory and not a separate country. Hong Kongers are Chinese citizens in the eyes of the world. The PLA already stations thousands of troops at garrisons across Hong Kong and has ultimate responsibility for defending Hong Kong. If they move in it will probably just be to secure key sites like the airport and government buildings. It's hard to blame China after seeing those images of the Chinese journalist being strapped to a luggage cart with cable ties and brutally beaten. The protestors have handed Hong Kong over on a silver platter.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

IloveCoffee: "The double standards and hypocrisy are astonishing."

Exactly, this is nothing more than xenophobia and brainwashing by US and Western propaganda. These RIOTERS are being egged on by the West and I wonder how the rioters have the money to buy gas masks when they don't work because they are rioting daily. Who is financing these rioters?

Furthermore, there is no sympathy for shop owner etc. who are not able to make a living because of the riots. Typical Western double standards.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to what would be essentially the same thing as when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Since you're typically a reasonable individual that employs logic, I'd like to hear more about this equivalency you are attempting to draw before I respond further.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

theFu: I, again, refer you to the actions of the National Guard against Kent State and Jackson State protesters in which 6 were killed and 20 wounded.  Furthermore, the US has in the past used the military to quell rioters; check your facts and read American history.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

This is how China Dictatorship ultimately solves any dyspeptic democratic discourse!

Military action.

The global community unequivocally must sanction diplomatically, economically and politically as a community the values that fulfils a democratic need to fully embrace a society that is totally free from tyranny

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Compare the British response to Irish demonstrators/rioter. 

13 people were shot dead in Derry by British soldiers and it was the biggest recruiting tool for the IRA.

The world was horrified by the actions of the British government.

China cannot afford to massacre any more people.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I wonder how the rioters have the money to buy gas masks when they don't work because they are rioting daily. Who is financing these rioters?

How do you know they aren't working? Could be doing shift work or taking time off.

If my country was in grave peril from Beijing, I'd be out there, job or no job, protesting peacefully.

Who is financing those who cast doubt on the protesters?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The double standards and hypocrisy are astonishing. Can you imagine if there were rioters in the United States throwing bombs at the police, destroying private property and blocking airports? Is there anybody here that can honestly tell me the US government wouldn't send the military after just 24 hours and beat to death the protesters?

That is on own soil. We are talking about the Chinese army going into Hong Kong, totally different ballgame. Anyway, I just hope that IF China takes military action, the world will respond in tune and denounces Xi and its communist regime.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hong Kong is recognised as Chinese territory and not a separate country. Hong Kongers are Chinese citizens in the eyes of the world.

Probably very true outside of the apac region, not so much in countries with a significant HK & 'mainland Chinese' minority though (oz, nz, possibly Canada). I've worked with/for HK & HK aussies before and they always identified as HK (similar thing with Taiwanese) & always/immediately distance themselves from China/Chinese ppl (esp in biz dealings). I think most ppl (& govts) who live and work alongside HK & Chinese ppl do differentiate HK & China.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

These RIOTERS are being egged on by the West and I wonder how the rioters have the money to buy gas masks when they don't work because they are rioting daily. Who is financing these rioters?

What you're reading on Chinese propaganda websites may not show the exact reality.

Just for you information, not only students protests:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/hong-kong-s--grey-hairs--march-to-support-youth-protesters-11729664

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/hong-kongs-lawyers-march-against-political-prosecutions

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Toasted Heretic: "If my country was in grave peril from Beijing,"

papigiuliö: "That is on own soil. We are talking about the Chinese army going into Hong Kong, totally different ballgame."

When will some commenters understand the HK is part of China? HK is as much a part of China as Texas is part of the US.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Eppee: " What you're reading on Chinese propaganda websites may not show the exact reality."

But you accept all you read in Western media because it fits in with your narrative.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I only hope I don't have to watch what I saw in June 1989 again. This time in HD and on youtube channels.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ilovecoffee.

I couldn't have said it any better.

It very refreshing to know that there are individuals here on JT who are smart and think rationally and don't just take in and digest wgat they read from news sources they are familiar with or is in accordance with their thoughts.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Strangerland

It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to what would be essentially the same thing as when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

It seems you are referring to Sadam Hussein’s claim that Kuwait had formerly been a province of Iraq and so, by sending his army in, was merely reuniting it to the fatherland.

Considering that Iraq itself had been a province of the Ottoman Empire, Hussein’s claim was rather disingenuous. Modern Turkey could have claimed Kuwait - and Iraq - by the same reasoning.

Hong Kong, on the contrary, was part of China until the British pried it away in the 19th century. When Hong Kong reverted to China the Chinese government made commitments to the people of Hong Kong (“one country, two systems”) which they now seem to be reneging on. That’s what the world is watching.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

rlperez@hotmail.com.auToday 09:45 am JST

Eppee: " What you're reading on Chinese propaganda websites may not show the exact reality."

But you accept all you read in Western media because it fits in with your narrative

As a matter of fact I actually don't need to read any media from any side to know what's going on in HK ....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@ossanamercI only hope I don't have to watch what I saw in June 1989 again. This time in HD and on youtube channels.

I agree. While the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was going on I watched several Japanese TV stations showing the absolute horrors after Deng Xiaoping's unleashed his forces on his own people. Many of those gruesome images have stayed with me all these years. And knowing that wasn't the first time a Chinese leader had had his own people slaughtered makes me concerned for those in Hong Kong. And throughout China for that matter. And there are those in the 'west' who push for authoritarian regimes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

crackdown coming...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

When will some commenters understand the HK is part of China? HK is as much a part of China as Texas is part of the US.

And when will you understand the simple issue here the CCP regime is more than willing to use the COUNTRY's MILTARY which is meant to DEFEND it's PEOPLE, to MURDER it's OWN PEOPLE.

Recognize injustice and evil for what it is. When Kent state occurred in the US, the citizens spoke out because it was WRONG for the government to use military force against it's own citizens. It was seen as no better than acting like USSR oppression back in the day.

Attacking Hong Konger with the "People's Liberation Army" isn't liberating the People of China... it is showing the CCP forcing control and power over the people of China for THEMSELVES. That is all it has ever been for them. POWER AND CONTROL for THEMSELVES.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think we will see something of a showdown.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hong Kong is recognised as Chinese territory and not a separate country. Hong Kongers are Chinese citizens in the eyes of the world.

Recent events would seem to indicate that they themselves don't agree with you.

And if they don't want to be part of China - whom they have had a clearly delineated separation for over 100 years, then I will go with the will of the people over the will of other people's opinions about them.

If the HKers want to be free and independent from China, then anyone opposing that is unethical, and anti-freedom.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Since you're typically a reasonable individual that employs logic, I'd like to hear more about this equivalency you are attempting to draw before I respond further.

Iraq invaded Kuwait. The world said 'that's not ok', stepped in, and gave Kuwait back its independence from Iraq.

If China invades HK, how will the world react?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I wonder how the rioters have the money to buy gas masks when they don't work because they are rioting daily. Who is financing these rioters?

I'd spend every last cent I had, if I was fighting my freedom. I'd lose my job. And I'd rob my enemy.

These people are financing themselves. Most of the protests are on weekends.

The real question is how many Chinese have infiltrated the protestors and are running false flag operations to discredit the protestors.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It seems you are referring to Sadam Hussein’s claim

I wasn't.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If the HKers want to be free and independent from China, then anyone opposing that is unethical, and anti-freedom.

I will add authoritarian to the point of fascism and perhaps suffering from a mental disorder where upon they have a lack of empathy and see people as toys or something.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So.....

The U.S.: If you burn / desecrete the U.S. flag, it is protected "speech".

In HK: If you descrete the PRC flag, you are arrested.

Which happened today.

This is not about the HK thug police & admin / PRC officials fighting "terrorism".

This is about the CCP demanding unwavering subservience and obedience!

Anyone that supports the PRC run by the CCP supports a fascist, brutal, totalitarian regime run by a bunch of murderers.

Full stop!!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

A policeman patrolling the area told Reuters journalists the paramilitary police were guarding a basketball tournament.

Please! As if anyone would believe that paramilitary in such high numbers would be there to guard a basketball tournament. Unless every single world leader was in attendance, this is a very obvious lie.

Its editor, Hu Xijin, described it on Twitter as "a clear warning to rioters in Hong Kong."

This, on the other hand, is very much the truth. China have been very transparent about its readiness to use force (including military) to keep Hong Kong (and Taiwan) as part of China. They're obsessed with their One China vision and will stoop to any level to achieve it. Who needs democracy when you have tanks, jets, warships, and brainwashed soldiers?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But you accept all you read in Western media because it fits in with your narrative.

I think people here are intelligent enough to read between the lines. Of course there are agendas to be followed and/or promoted.

But it's pretty darn obvious that there is a Beijing narrative at play, currently, to smear and demonize the protesters.

Who's financing our brothers and sisters on the streets of Hong Kong? Fellow Hong Kongers abroad. And that's all the information I feel safe sharing, for now.

Which is completely understandable and fair, what with pro-China students in Tasmania trying to silence Hong Kong students from bringing attention to the harsh and brutal police reactions.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Toasted Heretic:  "And that's all the information I feel safe sharing, for now."

So you claim "inside information"?  The reaction of HK police has been much less harsh than has happened around the would against RIOTERS. Compare how the rioters have been treated in HK with those in France, Spain, India etc.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

If you burn / desecrete the U.S. flag, it is protected "speech"

I don't know, I definitely wouldn't want to try that in America..

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Looks like some of the trucks in the post photo are water canon.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kuwait is a sovereign state, HK is not, it is part of China.

Saddam didn’t think so.

No similarity whatever. Every nation, including China, has a obligation to maintain law and order and protect its infrastructure. 

I agree, but the bigger you need to ask yourself is WHY are the people protesting. Address the symptom before you prescribe a cure.

Not nation will tolerate indefinitely RIOTING and do nothing. Compare China's response with the response of France, Spain, India... against RIOTERS. Compare the British response when the people in HK rioted against the British, Compare the British response to Irish demonstrators/rioter. Compare US response during the Jackson State and Kent State demonstrators.

So basically you’re giving us an excuse that the people in HK should shut up, give up on their desire to be free, freedom is what they’ve only known and follow the authoritarian oppressing demands of the mainland and give up the only system they’ve known and to embrace and accept what the mainland tells them?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

China have been very transparent about its readiness to use force (including military) to keep Hong Kong (and Taiwan) as part of China. They're obsessed with their One China vision and will stoop to any level to achieve it. Who needs democracy when you have tanks, jets, warships, and brainwashed soldiers?

They are also obsessed with their image. They know that Tienanmen-level incidents are extremely damaging to their image in the rest of the world. This situation is a nightmare for them - they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do nothing, and the protestors show that protests can win. Do something, and they inflict major damage on their nation in regards to its foreign relations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That is on own soil. We are talking about the Chinese army going into Hong Kong, totally different ballgame.

Which part of ONE country, two systems you don't understand?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Which part of ONE country, two systems you don't understand?

And which part of "don't use your military against your own people" don't YOU understand? Beijing is not using the military to bring "order", they are using in an attempt to maintain CONTROL.

This is why the rest of the FREE world supports the people of Hong Kong and anything coming out of Beijing lacks credibility because of their past and current actions.

Nobody who can observe the CCP with an open mind believes that the CCP doesn't do anything not it's own self interest. They've lied with propaganda so much (even mainland Chinese know better than to trust them...).

Why is the CCP so afraid of democracy? Why is the CCP so afraid of the People of China being allowed to individually CHOOSE who they put in positions of leadership and power? It's simple. The CCP led by select few political elites consumed with controlling other peoples lives... Greed whether for money or for power... leads to corruption and ultimately destruction.

Why else would there be "Pro CCP apologists" putting up Beijing propaganda on a Japanese/English news site?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hong Kong is part of China. I don't see that changing, unless Beijing allows it, which won't happen in my lifetime.

Rioting is unlawful and needs to be addressed by everyone, police AND protestors.

Protesting needs to be allowed, political leaders in Hong Kong need to work out a compromise since most Hong Kong citizens want change. They want to directly vote for their representatives, they want Lam gone, they want the extradition bill pulled, completely, and a law against introducing it again.

The Hong Kong police have lost the trust of the people there. After these events, it will take years to rebuild that trust.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

bass4funk: "Compare China's response with the response of France, Spain, India... against RIOTERS. Compare the British response when the people in HK rioted against the British, Compare the British response to Irish demonstrators/rioter. Compare US response during the Jackson State and Kent State demonstrators."

You never address the issue. Again, compare, as I suggest above. How did the above address protesters and how did the National Guard treat the protesters at Kent and Jackson States? All the above have been well covered by the media, so you should have no problem comparing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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