China media says Hong Kong protesters are ‘asking for self-destruction’ as military assembles nearby – CNBC

On Monday, Chinese officials focused on what they described as “deranged acts” by the protesters, including throwing gasoline bombs, saying they marked the emergence of terrorism in the Chinese city.

“Radical Hong Kong protesters have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers,” Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said in a news briefing on Monday, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

China’s media is sending a clear signal to the protesters.

On Monday afternoon, Chinese state-owned English tabloid the Global Times tweeted a video showing the People’s Armed Police assembling in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong, about a 1.5 hour- drive away.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party, posted on Chinese social media a statement saying the People’s Armed Police are in Shenzhen prepared to handle “riots, disturbance, major violence and crime and terrorism-related social security issues.”

In a Tuesday social media post from the Global Times‘ Chinese edition, the outlet said “if Hong Kong rioters cannot read the signal of having armed police gathering in Shenzhen, then they are asking for self-destruction,” according to a CNBC translation.

China is “implying they might send in the People’s Liberation Army or issue direct intervention but they don’t want to,” according to Ben Bland, a director at Sydney-based policy think tank Lowy Institute.

“(Beijing) hopes that the signals will scare protesters to back down,” but if and when Beijing decides to deploy troops they will not “advertise it,” he told CNBC. This is all part of a “delicate dance between China and Hong Kong” that’s reached a critical point because there is almost no common ground or overlapping interests between the protesters and Beijing, Bland added.

Although China’s leaders do not want to deploy the PLA, they are “willing to do it if they have to,” the Asia politics expert said.

Hong Kong’s former governor, Chris Patten, said on Tuesday that if China intervened in the city, it would be a “catastrophe” and that Chinese President Xi Jinping should see the wisdom of trying to bring people together.

Patten called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to garner support from its allies to ensure Beijing does not intervene.

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