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China releases video of anti-riot exercise

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The three-minute clip shows the People's Liberation Army firing guns and rockets

HONG KONG As Hong Kong's political crisis simmers amid heated protests, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong released a video showing footage of "anti-riot" exercises and warned violence is "absolutely impermissible".

The three-minute video posted on the Hong Kong garrison's official Weibo social media account late on Wednesday included footage of troops firing guns and rockets, and of light tanks, attack helicopters and missile launchers.

The PLA has remained in barracks since protests started in April, leaving Hong Kong's police force to deal with the massive and often violent protests.

On Wednesday, 44 people were charged with rioting, the first time the authorities have resorted to using the rioting charge.

In one sequence in the PLA video, titled "anti-riot drill footage", ranks of troops advance with shields and truncheons on protesters, firing rifles into the air.

Tear gas and water cannons rained down on protesters, as armoured personnel carriers with battering rams raced forward, and troops laid barbed wire coils on the ground.

"All consequences are at your own risk," one soldier is heard shouting in Cantonese, the main Chinese dialect in Hong Kong, during the video clip.

A red flag with the words "Warning. Stop charging or we use force" was also held aloft, similar to what Hong Kong police have long used during protests.

At the end of the clip, several protesters with their hands cuffed can be seen being taken away.

Hong Kong has been plunged into its biggest political crisis since the former British colony's return to Chinese rule in 1997 with a wave of protests against a now suspended extradition bill which would see people sent to mainland China for trial.

The protests which started in April have now transformed to include broader demands such as the resignation of Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam, and calls for a "free Hong Kong".

As tensions continue to rise in Hong Kong, and as clashes between protesters and police grow increasingly violent, Chinese authorities have strongly condemned the violence, and issued reminders that Hong Kong authorities can request the assistance of the PLA Hong Kong garrison if necessary.

Mr Chen Daoxiang, the commander of the PLA's Hong Kong garrison said on Wednesday the violent protests in Hong Kong are "absolutely impermissible".

Speaking at a reception to mark the 92nd anniversary of the PLA, Mr Chen said the protests were "putting the bottom line of the one country, two systems" principle "to the test".

He added that the PLA would "resolutely safeguard" the country's sovereignty and security, as well as Hong Kong's stability. - REUTERS