Envoys from Asian and Western countries are accusing China of using the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) annual Hong Kong garrison rotation as a covert tactic to transport some 6,000 reinforcements to the semi-autonomous city amid continued protests.
China’s military presence in Hong Kong has more than doubled from estimates of 3,000 to 5,000 to somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 since the recent deployment of troops from mainland China in late August, according to statements several envoys to the city made to Reuters.
The Monday report pushes back against previous Chinese military statements and state media reports that described the movement as the 22nd annual rotation of troops at the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison.
Late last month it was estimated that a total of 6,000 PLA-affiliated troops from mainland China arrived in Hong Kong via land and sea travel, triggering suspicions of a possible intervention by Beijing. Previous statements from Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had only mentioned the possibility of seeking assistance from the Chinese military.
Five of the seven diplomats who spoke with Reuters said the People’s Armed Police (PAP), Beijing’s paramilitary-structured riot control unit, are included in the estimated totals and would be the troops designated to lead an interventionist operation.
Despite the bold claims by the government representatives, the outlet noted “the envoys declined to say how exactly they determined that the recent troop…