China will use its power to quell Hong Kong protests if the situation deteriorates further after some protesters have shown signs of terrorism, China’s ambassador to London said yesterday, while hundreds of Chinese People’s Armed Police were seen conducting exercises at a sports stadium in Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong.
“Should the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further ... the central government will not sit on its hands and watch,” Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming (劉曉明) told reporters.
“We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of [the] Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly,” Liu said. “Their moves are severe and violent offenses, and already show signs of terrorism.”
“The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss,” he added.
Meanwhile, men in fatigues could be seen in a stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, and shouts and whistles were heard by a journalist in the 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 riot shields and practiced 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 territory into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
On Wednesday, the US Department of State said that it was deeply concerned about reports that Chinese police forces were gathering near the border with Hong Kong and urged the territory’s government to respect freedom of speech.
Still, diplomats in Hong Kong said that they believe China’s leadership is well aware that moving mainland forces into Hong Kong would shatter international faith and 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 reporters on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “The trucks aren’t about to roll at this point.”
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, armored personnel carriers, buses and jeeps. At least three were armored front-end loaders, and two vehicles carried water cannons.
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
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