As the situation on the ground in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate, Beijing has increased preparations to mobilize paramilitary forces on the mainland to potentially move in and end the protests once and for all. State run media in China has broadcast videos of the People’s Armed Police assembling in Shenzen, just across the border from Hong Kong. The tone of Chinese government officials has also changed over the past twenty-four to thirty-six hours as well. The protests have been publicly labeled as ‘terrorism’ by one official, which harkens back to official proclamations in the weeks leading up to when government forces went into the far western area of Xinjiang in 2014.
Protesters in Hong Kong have escalated the demonstrations considerably in recent days. Their objective now appears to be disrupting the economy and infrastructure of the city as they push for the resignation of Carrie Lam, and concessions from Beijing. Demonstrations have flared into violence at Hong Kong’s airport, and at subway stations across the city. Protesters have thrown bricks and Molotov cocktails, while police have responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. With the protests continuing to spiral out of control, and the world watching closely, many are wondering when and how Beijing will ultimately respond.
The consensus for the moment is that Beijing has not reached the point of committing troops in Hong Kong yet. Even though the protests have become more violent, the number of protesters has fallen off as Hong Kong police adopt more forceful tactics like the use of rubber bullets, and tear gas. External variables are also playing a role, most notably keeping China’s international image favorable, and the ongoing trade war with the United States. China’s leadership prefers to sit by and hope the protests fade away, however, this will not last forever.
At what point will Xi Jinping decide enough is enough and send in troops from the mainland?