Sun, Aug 04, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Unleashing PLA on HK would be irreparable

By HoonTing 雲程

On June 9, Hong Kong residents first demonstrated against a bill that would allow extradition to China. Since then, Hong Kongers have organized marches weekly, with attendance numbering from the hundreds of thousands to as many as 2 million. The scale of the marches, as well as the rough tactics of the police, has shocked the world.

The tactics of protesters and police have changed. Protesters have switched from large-scale marches to smaller protests in multiple locations.

Last month in Yuen Long District, a white-shirted mob savagely attacked protesters at several locations as they returned from a march, with video footage showing them dishing out indiscriminate violence, including upon pregnant women and journalists. Not only were the police slow to respond to calls for help, even ambulances took a long time to arrive.

A “traffic jam protest,” which urged drivers to operate vehicles at slower “safe speeds” in seven areas, was held on Tuesday.

Protest activities have thus far been confined to a show of civic power, but, in a worrying development, civil servants on Friday held a territory-wide rally.

Hong Kong’s civil servants are a restrained and conservative group. They might protest over pay or benefit issues, but rarely over legal or political ones.

However, they took to the streets because internal channels for registering dissatisfaction have been suspended with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) a lame duck. Although China has strongly backed Lam, it has hinted that this is only for the short term.

Beijing keeps referring to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Garrisoning the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which says that the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress is authorized to dispatch the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to Hong Kong to defend it, resist invasion, provide disaster assistance or restore public order in one of three scenarios: following a declaration of a state of war (Article 6); if turmoil endangers national unity or security, and is beyond the control of the Hong Kong government (Article 6); if the chief executive asks the central government for assistance from the Hong Kong Garrison to maintain public order or provide disaster relief (Article 14).

At a July 29 news conference convened by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, a Chinese official said that the situation in Hong Kong had tested a red line of the territory’s “one country, two systems” model, apparently paving the way for military involvement in accordance with the second scenario.

There is precedent for this: On Aug. 25, 2017, the Chinese government authorized the Macau Garrison to provide emergency relief in the aftermath of Typhoon Hato.

Deploying troops from the Hong Kong Garrison based on Article 14 would effectively implement military rule. As Article 29 says that “the Hong Kong Garrison shall perform its duties in accordance with the provisions of the national laws that the Central People’s Government decides to apply in the region,” the “one country, two systems” model would be abolished.

What would happen in the territory would be decided by the Standing Committee, not the Hong Kong Legislative Council.

If this were to happen, Hong Kong would be changed forever. Beijing should think carefully before opening this can of worms.

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