Hong Kong’s reputation as an independent haven for digital nomads is looking very uncertain. By now, it’s clear that China is one of the world’s worst countries in terms of internet privacy, censorship, and surveillance–and those ideals are starting to put pressure on Hong Kong. Protesters and privacy rights advocates are now witnessing the sheer force of China’s propaganda machine and armed forces. A new “anti-riot” video has been released showing the length China is willing to go to quell protests and dissent in Hong Kong.
The new video, posted on social media by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), showcases the PLA’s capability to handle riots and any forms of dissent. The video shows tanks, helicopters, rocket launchers, and various military hardware as well as troops performing anti-terrorism drills.
The video even has an “anti-riot” drill, in which it shows armored soldiers dispersing protesters with personnel carriers and water cannons. In the video, PLA soldiers are also equipped with long shields, batons, and are laying out barbed-wire barricades and pointing assault rifles. An officer in the video is holding a red flag that says “Warning, stop charging or we use force”, and the video ends with armed troops escorting protesters to detention points.
The release of the video comes on the same day as dozens of individuals appeared in Hong Kong courts after being charged with “rioting” for their alleged involvement in anti-government protests this last weekend. The unrest in Hong Kong has been going on for quite some time now, starting nearly two months prior when masses of people took to the streets to protest a law that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China.
These protests are one of the biggest democratic movements and one of the biggest power challenges to central China in Beijing since 1977. The spokesman for the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office explains that the situation is “locked down”.
“We are… confident and capable of firmly maintaining national sovereignty, safety, development interests and maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability in the long run,” it said.
Will Hong Kong become Beijing’s New Tiananmen Square?