Is Beijing Readying a Military Crackdown in Hong Kong?

Is Beijing Readying a Military Crackdown in Hong Kong?
Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers during an exercise at Stonecutter Island naval base, in Hong Kong, June 30, 2019 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Hong Kong experienced its most widespread antigovernment demonstrations yet Monday, as protests and a citywide strike led to road closures, disruptions to public transit systems and hundreds of flight cancellations. Riot police responded by volleying tear gas at demonstrators and arresting at least 82 people. Amid the chaos, the Chinese government warned “all the criminals to not wrongly judge the situation and take restraint for weakness.” That statement, Beijing’s sharpest denunciation of the protests yet, added to fears that the Chinese military could intervene to quash the protests.

The months-long protest movement initially began in response to a controversial bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to the mainland. Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill in June, but that did little to mollify the demonstrators, who continue to call for the proposed law to be withdrawn completely. They are also demanding an independent investigation into police abuses, the dropping of riot charges against demonstrators who have been arrested and broader democratic reforms.

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