eijing has taken its criticism of protesters in Hong Kong further than ever before, worrying some that China may be laying down the rhetorical groundwork for a crackdown.
“Hong Kong’s radical protesters have repeatedly attacked police with extremely dangerous tools, which constitutes serious violent crimes and have begun to show signs of terrorism,” said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), at a press conference on Monday.
This is the first time that a Chinese official has used the “T-word” in reference to the protests in Hong Kong, which are now going into their 10th straight week. It follows a bloody Sunday where protesters threw petrol bombs at police stations, burning one officer’s legs.
Rioters attacked police officers with gasoline bombs at multiple locations in Hong Kong on the evening of August 11, 2019. One policemen was burned on his legs after rioters threw a gasoline bomb. #HongKong pic.twitter.com/LwRsAfVJkH
— CCTV (@CCTV) August 12, 2019
Yang declared that this “violent criminal activity must be resolutely combated according to the law, without weakness or hesitation.”
The HKMAO was established back in 1997 as China’s top Hong Kong policy office. It has now held three press conferences in the last several weeks after not holding a single one before this summer.
In the past, Beijing has only ever used the word “terrorism” in reference to minority groups like the Uighurs in Xinjiang, never to characterize members of the Han majority. The change in rhetoric has caused some to become concerned that China may be considering some sort of military intervention in Hong Kong if protests continue to escalate.
Chinese state media has certainly not been subtle on this point. Posting videos of People’s Armed Police officers and vehicles arriving in the city of Shenzhen to take part in large-scale exercises just across the border from Hong Kong.
The People’s Armed Police have been assembling in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong, in advance of apparent large-scale exercises, videos obtained by the Global Times have shown. https://t.co/3KgaXeHw3C pic.twitter.com/YXAORMay0W
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 12, 2019
In video: Chinese armed police armored vehicle fleet is prepared for a drill in Shenzhen, S China's Guangdong province. pic.twitter.com/bU4IxhaM0s
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) August 12, 2019
China's Armed Police Force stations in south China's Shenzhen pic.twitter.com/OHRR3nrXkj
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) August 12, 2019