China may deploy army at Hong Kong’s request, Latest World News - The New Paper

China may deploy army at Hong Kong’s request

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BEIJING: China issued a stark reminder yesterday that its army could be deployed in Hong Kong if city authorities requested support in maintaining "public order" after weeks of sometimes violent protests.

Hong Kong has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history after millions of demonstrators took to the streets - and sporadic violent confrontations between police and pockets of hardcore protesters.

The demonstrations were triggered by a controversial Bill that would have allowed extraditions to China but have evolved into a call for wider democratic reforms.

Beijing has labelled the protests as "extreme illegal violence" but has left it to the city's semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation.

China's Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a news conference in Beijing that the ministry has been "paying close attention" to the situation in Hong Kong.

Asked how his ministry would handle the situation in the city, Mr Wu pointedly noted that there are "clear stipulations" in Article 14 of Hong Kong's garrison law - without elaborating.

According to the article, the city's authorities may ask, "when necessary", the central government for assistance from the garrison "in the maintenance of public order and in disaster relief".

In a related development, Hong Kong's train operator MTR announced delays because a small group of anti-government protesters disrupted the city's morning rush, stranding crowds of commuters on platforms at a main station, Bloomberg reported.

Some protesters, wearing masks, were seen blocking the train doors from closing, reported public broadcaster RTHK.

Citing online posts, RTHK said protesters were apparently upset with MTR for allowing armed mobs to launch an attack on protesters and train passengers at the Yuen Long MTR station on Sunday. - AFP