China could attack Hong Kong in just 10 minutes, military warnsAugust 16, 2019
The Chinese military has declared it can reach Hong Kong in just ten minutes as pro-democracy activists prepare for more protests this weekend.
Hundreds of tanks have been amassed inside a sports stadium just 4.5 miles from the border, prompting fears of a brutal military crackdown.
For the last two days, thousands of troops have been practising drills inside the stadium in Shenzhen, China.
Eyewitnesses said they had seen soldiers in camouflage fatigues waving red flags and parading up and down the arena.
Pro-democracy campaigners are planning to hold a major rally on Sunday, which is being billed as a ‘rational, non-violent’ protest.
The aim of demonstrators is to show they still have broad public support after their movement suffered a setback when a sit-in at the airport turned violent earlier this week.
China labelled those involved in the clashes as ‘terrorist-like’ and within hours the military began to arrive at the sports centre.
The communist regime has not officially threatened to use the army – as it did against pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, Beijing in 1989.
But experts say these exercises close to the border are designed to show that China has the ability to crush demonstrations.
In a social media post, one branch of the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shared a picture of military trucks outside Shenzhen Bay sports centre, nicknamed Silkworm Stadium because of its design.
The post then warned: ‘The Silkworm Stadium near Shenzhen Bay is situated 56 kilometres (35 miles) from Hong Kong Airport and it takes 10 minutes to reach Hong Kong from here.’
The post in question has now been removed from Chinese messaging platform WeChat.
Over the last few days, the Chinese state media has put out images and videos of military personnel and armoured vehicles.
Satellite images have shown around 500 vehicles, including two carrying water cannons at the arena.
The nationalistic Global Times newspaper said there would not be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which hundreds – or even thousands – are believed to have been killed, if Beijing moves to quash the protests.
‘The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,’ it said, insisting the country now had more sophisticated approaches.
It was a rare reference to the bloody events, which are taboo in China.
Tactics by the police in Hong Kong are toughening after 10 weeks of unrest in the financial hub.
A total of 748 people have now been arrested in the worst crisis since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Under the handover agreement, a ‘one country, two systems’ legal framework was secured for Hong Kong.
It allowed for far greater civil liberties than on the mainland but protesters say they are being eroded as Chinese interference grows.
The unrest was sparked by opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China.
Demonstrators have five demands, including the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill and the right to elect their own leader.
Since April, millions of people have taken to the streets and police have clashed with small groups of hardcore protesters.
The pro-democracy cause was shaken on Tuesday when demonstrators attacked two men at the airport who they suspected of spying for China.
They have since apologised for their actions and for the chaos caused as flights were cancelled for two days.
On Saturday, activists have vowed to gather in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan – two harbourside districts popular with mainland Chinese tourists – despite police banning their proposed marches.
On Sunday, the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised million-strong marches in June will be demonstrating in Victoria Park.
The police have forbidden them from marching through the city.
There will also be smaller protests, including one by animal lovers who are angry their pets have been tear-gassed by Hong Kong police.
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