Member Since: 2/25/13
some people think Hong Kong is in China, but there is actually an international border that seperates the two. now Chinese forces are gathering on the China side
White House Eyeing Chinese Forces Gathered on Hong Kong Border
July 31, 2019
The White House is monitoring what a senior administration official called a congregation of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border.
Weeks of unrest in the Chinese territory have begun to overwhelm Hong Kong’s police, who have found themselves in violent clashes with protesters. China warned Monday that the civil disorder had gone “far beyond” peaceful protest after police deployed tear gas over the weekend.
The nature of the Chinese buildup wasn’t clear; the official said that units of the Chinese military or armed police had gathered at the border with Hong Kong. The official briefed reporters on a range of issues on condition he not be identified.
Eurasia Group China analyst Andrew Coflan said he was taking the White House concerns “with a grain of salt” as it was unclear whether the White House was merely observing a large swearing-in ceremony of around 19,000 police personnel in China’s southern Guangdong province.
“I do not know if this is what they’re referring to, but if so this statement strikes me as needlessly escalatory,” Coflan said in an email. “Yes, there may be some signaling from China in the assembly of this many security forces in Guangdong, but that is far different than anti-riot troops marshaling in Shenzhen.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing Wednesday that she was not aware of a situation on the border.
Under the Basic Law that governs Hong Kong, the maintenance of public order falls to local authorities, while China’s central government is responsible for the overall defense of the territory. Hong Kong can still ask Beijing “for assistance from the garrison in the maintenance of public order and in disaster relief.”
China’s People’s Liberation Army maintains a garrison of reportedly around 6,000 troops in Hong Kong, along with a naval squadron and a helicopter regiment. There are even more troops stationed just across the border in Shenzhen.
The mainland government said Tuesday that violence in Hong Kong was a “creation of the U.S.,” a charge the administration official denied.
The developments come as President Donald Trump seeks a trade deal with China and just as the two nations resumed negotiations in Shanghai. Trump has spoken only sparingly about the protests, praising Chinese President Xi Jinping for his restraint. But it’s unclear how much planning the U.S. has done to prepare for possible Chinese military intervention in Hong Kong.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged the Chinese on Monday to “do the right thing” in managing the protests in Hong Kong, which began more than eight weeks ago, after the city-state’s executive, Carrie Lam, tried to win passage of a law allowing extraditions to the mainland.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded to Pompeo on Tuesday by blaming the U.S. for the protests.
“It’s clear that Mr. Pompeo has put himself in the wrong position and still regards himself as the head of the CIA,” Hua said, referring to Pompeo’s previous role at the intelligence agency. “He might think that violent activities in Hong Kong are reasonable because after all, this is the creation of the U.S.”
Pompeo, heading to a regional conference in Bangkok on Tuesday, responded mildly when asked by a reporter on his plane what he’d say to the Chinese foreign minister when they met at the event.
“With respect to Hong Kong, this is the people of Hong Kong asking their government to listen to them,” he said. “So it’s always appropriate for every government to listen to their people.”
Paul Sullivan, an international security expert at the National Defense University, said that China views the situation in terms of its long-term impact on the regime’s central power.
“The Chinese most likely have a very long-term perspective on this, and they aren’t going to be one China and two systems anymore,” Sullivan said. “My sense is that they want to completely chew up Hong Kong and make it part of the central part of China, maybe to improve their trading and economic base.”
Charles Lipson, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, said the U.S.’s options to intervene would be limited.
“There’s very little the U.S. can do, should do, or will want to do prior to a major crackdown,” Lipson said. “After which the U.S. will complain mightily but from the point of view of the U.S., there’s essentially nothing that can be done if the Chinese want to crack down on Hong Kong.”
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