China hints at use of military force to suppress Hong Kong protests

A new document spelling out China’s defence strategy hints at the use of military force if the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and the freedom push by the leadership in Taiwan cross all limits.

Defence spokesman, Colonel Wu Qian, said the destructive nature of the recent extradition bill protests in Hong Kong such as the defacing of China’s liaison office on Sunday (July 21) and the storming of the legislative council on July 1, above, is testing Beijing’s patience.

Citing the Garrison Law governing the operations of 6,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops based in Hong Kong, Wu said they can intervene in rare situations to help maintain law and order in the city or clear debris during natural calamities at the request of Hong Kong’s government.

Beijing cannot tolerate protests challenging the central government’s authority. The conduct by radical groups challenging the ‘one country, two systems’ status given to Hong Kong for 50 years is unacceptable, he said.

The 69-pages document underscores PLA’s role in maintaining internal security and social stability along with countering external threats.

Without naming the US, the document criticised certain external forces that encourage freedom push in Chinese territories (Hong Kong and Taiwan).

Washington’s recent sale of M1A2T Abrams tanks and other weaponry worth $2.2 billion to Taiwan had angered Beijing.

Xi Jinping, who has been made president for life, is focused on challenges to China’s sovereignty posed by pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and an assertive Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, and her Democratic Progressive Party.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are seeking the preservation of the former British territory’s openness and freedom while being governed by China’s Communist system after the 1997 handover.

Tsai’s efforts to sever Taiwan’s connection with the mainland will be resisted at all costs, the document said.

The use of military force to suppress the pro-democracy protests or take Taiwan could only strengthen the resolve of pro-democracy groups to declare independence.

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has already inspired Taiwanese youth and the re-election of Tsai in 2020 polls could be a big blow to Beijing.

The document on defence strategy comes ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October.