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 condition he not be identified.
The anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong have spilled over onto the campus of an Australian university where clashes broke out between pro-Beijing and pro-Hong Kong students.
On Wednesday, dozens of students from Hong Kong staged a sit-in protest outside of a coffee shop on the campus of the University of Queensland, holding up signs which, among other things, called for the university to close its Confucius Institute and “stop taking CCP blood money.”
After about an hour, the protest was interrupted when dozens of Chinese students arrived with speakers blasting the Chinese national anthem and chanting out slogans.
The tense situation eventually kicked off when some of the Chinese students started grabbing the protesters’ signs and ripping them. The situation devolved from there into pushing and shoving.
“I saw some of the anti-CCP (Chinese Community Party) organizers being punched and shoved onto the ground. I saw someone smash a drink against someone’s head and a security guard was bitten by one of the (pro-Beijing) protesters,” journalism student Nilsson Jones told news.com.au.
After nearly two million Hongkongers took to the streets to call for a controversial extradition bill to be shelved, the Chinese regime took measures to censor all related information, while state-run media spun the protests as anti-U.S. demonstrations.
After heavy criticism from netizens, China Daily, an English-language state-run media directed at international audiences, was forced to delete its related Facebook posts.
The UK never should have given up Hong Kong and the US should not have given China MFN trading status
Demonstrators in Hong Kong have again blocked key roads and government buildings, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets in response.
On the surface, these protests are about plans that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China (we’ve explained those plans – and just why they rankle – here).
But this is not all happening in a vacuum. There’s a lot of important context – some of it stretching back decades – that helps explain what is going on.
Hong Kong has a special status… It’s important to remember that Hong Kong is significantly different from other Chinese cities. To understand this, you need to look at its history.
It was a British colony for more than 150 years – part of it, Hong Kong island, was ceded to the UK after a war in 1842. Later, China also leased the rest of Hong Kong – the New Territories – to the British for 99 years.
It became a busy trading port, and its economy took off in the 1950s as it became a manufacturing hub.
The territory was also popular with migrants and dissidents fleeing instability, poverty or persecution in mainland China.
Then, in the early 1980s, as the deadline for the 99-year-lease approached, Britain and China began talks on the future of Hong Kong – with the communist government in China arguing that all of Hong Kong should be returned to Chinese rule.
The two sides reached a deal in 1984 that would see Hong Kong return to China in 1997, under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
This meant that while becoming part of one country with China, Hong Kong would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.
As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system and borders, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.
For example, it is one of the few places in Chinese territory where people can commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, where the military opened fire on unarmed protesters in Beijing… but things are changing