Chinese paramilitary forces have been carrying out exercises on the border with Hong Kong today as the political crisis in the territory roles on.
News agency Reuters reported that hundreds of members of China’s People’s Armed Police could be seen conducting an exercise at a sports stadium in Shenzhen today.
Parking spaces at the stadium were filled with more than 100 paramilitary vehicles, including troop trucks, buses, jeeps and armoured personnel carriers.
At least two of the vehicles carried water cannon.
“This is the first time I’ve seen such a large-scale meeting,” Yang Ying, a receptionist at a wellness centre inside the stadium’s retail complex told Reuters.
“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.”
Last night, US President Donald Trump Called for China to “work humanely with Hong Kong” and suggested a personal meeting with China’s President Xi.
“I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ‘tough business.’ I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?” he tweeted.
Protests began more than two months ago, in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China for trial in Communist-controlled courts. However, they have widened to highlight other grievances, winning broad support.
Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement enshrining some autonomy for Hong Kong when China took it back from Britain in 1997.
Chinese authorities yesterday described the protests, some of which have turned violent, as “near terrorism criminal actions”.