Chinese state-controlled media released footage displaying armored carriers and other vehicles from the People’s Armed Police of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) traveling toward the Hong Kong border.
The footage provided by state-owned Chinese tabloid newspaper, Global Times, displayed a convoy of armored fleet traveling from Fujian Province to the city of Shenzhen, which is next to Hong Kong.
The over one-minute long detailed footage, including aerial shots, had to be approved by the CCP before its release, leaving many China experts to ponder over the motives behind the gesture.
Some analysts thought the show of military presence is the CCP’s attempt to intimidate the Hong Kong protesters. It is to convey a grim reminder to the protesters and the international community of the horrors of the 1989 June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre of the students’ pro-democracy activists who were brutally crushed.
Chinese state media said that the “exercises” had been prearranged before the Hong Kong protests began and that it was not linked to the Hong Kong situation.
But Beijing had earlier described the Hong Kong protests as approaching “terrorism,” triggering a response from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Morrison denounced the CCP’s definition of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests as akin to “terrorism.”
“That’s certainly not the rhetoric that I would certainly use to describe those events” in Hong Kong, said Morrison, who expressed concern “because of the number of Australians, residents, and citizens that are in Hong Kong, both on a long-term basis and on a short-term basis.”
Law professor Roberto Virzo from Luiss University in Rome said the Chinese communist regime could not repeat the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre today.
Virzo, who is an expert in international law and human rights, said the current Hong Kong situation is different from the one in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Speaking in Italian, Virzo explained, “First of all, social media are playing an important role in this protest” and so “Everyone knows what is happening in Hong Kong.”
The second point Virzo put forward is that the international community has a new concept of human rights and that the 1989 June 4 demonstrations that were brutally squashed by the CCP were regarded, at the time, as China’s own domestic affair.
“Hong Kong is not Tiananmen,” said Virzo. “It’s not Beijing, because Hong Kong enjoys a special regime after the 1997 treaty” with Britain when the island territory was handed back to China, the law professor and analyst said.
Virzo commented that the Hong Kong situation is tricky. He stated that the protests started as a reaction to the proposed controversial extradition bill that would have allow the CCP to extradite suspects to mainland China for prosecution.
He stated that even if the Hong Kong government declared that the proposed bill had been withdrawn, the people of Hong Kong want “further guarantees” that the terms of the 1997 treaty are maintained indefinitely.
Thanks to social media, the Hong Kong protesters are not going to end their protests. They will continue to engage the international community to be part of their protests. Whereas the CCP does not want a “domino effect of this protest” on its island territory, and in China itself, said Virzo.
Virzo said ultimately China has to weigh its relations with the international community and pressure from social media, when responding to the Hong Kong situation.