Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protest, August 18, 2019 (image by Studio Incendo via Wikimedia Commons)

Military vehicles carrying soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have entered Hong Kong in the early hours of August 29 on what China’s state-run media have called a “routine rotation”.

Hong Kong citizens who saw PLA vehicles driving through the city’s streets shared images on social media.

At 3.56 AM, perhaps in reaction to the images spreading online, China‘s state-run news agency Xinhua reported that the PLA had entered Hong Kong on a “routine rotation”.

“In the early hours of August 8 the Hong Kong garrison of the Chiense People’s Liberation Army began to conduct the 22nd routine troop rotation since being dispatched to Hong Kong [in 1997]”, Xinhua wrote in a tweet.

Hong Kong has entered the 12th week of protests against the government’s controversial extradition bill which would allow the Chinese Communist authorities to request the extradition of individuals from Hong Kong.

According to Amnesty International, the extradition bill “would extend the power of the mainland authorities to target critics, human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers and anyone else in Hong Kong,” adding that mainland China’s justice system “has a record of torture, serious violations of fair trial rights, enforced disappearances and various systems of incommunicado detention without trial.”

The Hong Kong government has cracked down on protesters, but many fear that the Chinese Communist regime could suppress the demonstrations by military force, as it did in 1989 in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and in other cities throughout mainland China.

On August 27 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who was appointed by the Chinese Communist government, refused to deny rumours that she is considering invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which would give her sweeping powers to put down the protests.

The Emergency Regulations Ordinance, originally adopted in 1922 during British colonial rule but since then amended several times, gives the Chief Executive the authority to declare “an occasion of emergency or public danger” and to make “any regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest”, including such regulations that may provide for:

(a) censorship, and the control and suppression of publications, writings, maps, plans, photographs, communications and means of communication;
(b) arrest, detention, exclusion and deportation;
(c) control of the harbours, ports and waters of Hong Kong, and the movements of vessels;
(d) transportation by land, air or water, and the control of the transport of persons and things;
(e) trading, exportation, importation, production and manufacture;
(f) appropriation, control, forfeiture and disposition of property, and of the use thereof.

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