Pro-democracy Hong Kong politicians have demanded that Hong Kong’s government explain whether it requested assistance from China in public security and disaster relief after members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were seen Saturday helping clear roads after anti-government protests.
Hong Kong public broadcaster RTH reported that Chinese soldiers already stationed in Hong Kong joined pro-China residents of Hong Kong in cleaning up debris after protests had blocked roads.
Social media feeds show men in green and black uniforms, with Chinese flags on their shoulders, returning to barracks that they rarely leave.
Hong Kong’s government said Saturday that it “has not requested the (PLA) Garrison’s assistance.”
Chinese soldiers’ efforts to clear road blocks outside the barracks in Kowloon Tong was “purely a voluntary community activity initiated by themselves,” the Hong Kong SAR government said in a statement.
Five legislators said that if Hong Kong had requested the assistance, it was continuing “to indulge in escapism, evade political settlement of political issues, and further weaken one country, two systems.”
Hong Kong is part of China with a “one country, two systems” principle, but Article 14 of the Basic Law says Hong Kong’s government may, when necessary, have the garrison assist in “maintenance of public security and disaster relief.”
Clause 9 of the Garrison Law states that China’s military shall not interfere in the local affairs of Hong Kong, while Article 11 stipulates that the garrison shall notify the local government in advance of any military activities, such as training exercises and maneuvers if the public interest is affected.
The recent week of the 24-week agitation was the most violent since the protests began. A 22-year-old student who fell near the scene of demonstrations on November 8 died.