For the leader of Hong Kong, it’s a “path of no return.”
As the Chinese territory’s mounting protests enter their fourth month, and violent clashes forced its international airport to cancel flights for the second day, videos were surfacing that showed Chinese paramilitary forces assembling within striking distance of the restive island.
And an observer with the European Union’s Committee on Foreign Affairs warned that “something extraordinarily bad is about to happen.”
Alexandre Krauss, a policy adviser with the EU, published the Twitter post on Monday.
— Alexandre Krauss (@AlexandreKrausz) August 12, 2019
Hong Kong, the former British colony that was turned over to China in 1997, has been the scene of protests since the spring.
But according to the U.K. Independent, the forces gathering in the city of Shenzhen, a little under 20 miles from Hong Kong are a “further sign of Beijing’s waning patience with Hong Kong.”
What could be especially dangerous is that, according to the Independent, the Beijing government has declared that the Hong Kong protests had “begun to show ‘sprouts of terrorism.’”
“While China defines terrorism loosely, it has previously used the term to describe non-violent opposition movements in minority regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang, justifying greater uses of force and the suspension of legal rights for detainees,” the Independent noted.
In short, a military crackdown is more possible now.
In Washington, President Donald Trump called the Hong Kong situation “tricky.”
“I think it will work out and I hope it works out, for liberty,” he said, according to The Hill. “I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.”
In a Twitter post, Trump appealed for calm.
“Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong,” he wrote. “Everyone should be calm and safe!”
Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
Adding to the atmosphere of tension, what CNBC described as “Chinese propaganda outlets” were warning on Tuesday that Hong Kong protesters were “asking for self-destruction.”
According to the U.K. Telegraph, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijin leader, Carrie Lam, gave a news conference Tuesday where she said the situation was critical.
“Violence, no matter if it’s using violence or condoning violence, will push Hong Kong down a path of no return,” Lam said.
The Global Times, a state-run Chinese news agency that focuses on foreign affairs, published a Twitter post that showed military activity accompanied by martial music.
The People’s Armed Police have been assembling in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong, in advance of apparent large-scale exercises, videos obtained by the Global Times have shown. https://t.co/3KgaXeHw3C pic.twitter.com/YXAORMay0W
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 12, 2019
At Hong Kong International, meanwhile, clashes between protesters and police were turning violent.
Check out this BBC report:
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 13, 2019
Americans old enough to remember the brutal 1989 crackdown by the Chinese government on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square might feel like they’ve seen this kind of buildup before.
If past is prologue, Krauss could be right, that “something extraordinarily bad is about to happen.”
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