The Battle For Hong Kong Continues: What Could the Tanks at the Border Mean?

The fight for Hong Kong seems to be never ending as the special administrative region of China is about to enter its 11th week of consecutive protests. Peaceful rallies organised during the day turn chaotic as the sun starts to set when barricades are built on the streets to challenge police. The people believe police have used excessive force against citizens who are simply fighting for their democratic rights, against the authoritative Chinese Communist Party.

Tear gas has been deployed almost every day of the week as the popularity of the police and government slowly deteriorates. Protesters use guerrilla tactics to draw police into battles on the street and retreat to other parts of the city to reorganise. This leaves residents to further bombard the police with insults and even physical pressure for their use of tear gas in their neighbourhoods.

One of our foreign correspondents came across a government worker late at night who was tasked with cleaning antigovernment graffiti off a bus stop. He asked the worker how he felt about the protests since he was having to clean up after them, to which he replied, “to be honest I agree with what they are doing.”

With rallies both day and night amounting to tens of thousands of people at the minimum, with their biggest rally seeing over two million out of its seven million population, it is clear that the people of Hong Kong are almost entirely fed up with China’s increasing attempts to exercise power over them.

People who can’t make it to rallies and protests donate funds for supplies to keep the movement going, crowdfunding campaigns are organised to buy international news headlines that express favour towards the democratic movement, petitions are signed by thousands of professionals over hundreds of large businesses and public services like hospitals to condemn police actions, and pressure the corporate giants of the city to take steps towards ensuring the safety of its citizens in these troubled times. This includes the MTR (public transport system) that was tasked on Monday night to investigate into the ventilation system of “Taikoo” station after police shot tear gas straight into it on Sunday during an intense clash with protesters.

More recently the Hong Kong International Airport has been shut down, flights can arrive, but they cannot depart as thousands of protesters fill the terminals rendering it almost impossible to navigate around. Police arrived on Tuesday night and scuffles broke out with little damage to the protesters’ spirits. A large group remained in the airport overnight after police retreated.

There is no doubt that this democratic movement has done much damage to one of Asia’s financial hubs, with professional strikes shutting down huge multinational companies, transport systems being repeatedly disrupted, even international media is warning travelers not to venture to Hong Kong causing a dip in foreign money coming into the city.

Footage of Tanks Crossing the Border Emerge

Tanks Crossing the HK Border from Shenzhen

All this organized destruction has a wide international audience wondering if an end is in sight, but China is not giving up. Yesterday pictures emerged from the Hong Kong Shenzhen border of tanks and military troop carriers crossing into the former British colony. Many media sources and protesters are saying that this could turn into a “Tiananmen 2” which is highly possible given what China has got away with in the past, but with the watchful eyes of the press constantly trained on police, waiting to expose them to an audience over a billion strong China will have to be very careful here.

How Could the People’s Liberation Army Be Used?

It is highly likely that the “People’s Liberation Army” is being sent to bolster the ranks of the police who are currently far outnumbered by the protesters. Due to the protesters’ immense numbers they are able to rotate their frontline soldiers a lot quicker than the police who often retreat back behind the walls of their stations after hour long standoffs. With a boost in numbers from the military the police will be able to rotate their forces and have a constant supply of fresh troops to provide a heavy fight for the protesters. They will also be able to cover more ground and block more escape routes and make more arrests.

Tanks can be equipped with water cannons to take out large groups of people in a non-lethal way that still allows them to keep their PR under control. Tanks can also block escape routes and prevent protesters from advancing to certain areas without using bodies of people that will tire after hours of standing still in body armour and kit.

With the use of tanks, they will also be able to take over and hold key parts of the city that have been hot spots for protests like “Wong Tai Sin,” “Sham Shui Po,” and “Yao Ma Tie.”

Even with the help of the army China isn’t guaranteed a victory yet. The people of Hong Kong do not seem like they are willing to step down any time soon and appear to be becoming braver in the face of armed police. Residents have been seen picking up tear gas cannisters without gloves, masks or goggles and lobbing them back towards the police lines at 3am in the morning.

To let the Hong Kong people win would be an embarrassing defeat for China who is one of the world’s most powerful nations, certainly Asia’s most powerful. China’s place on the scale of international relations has prevented any intervention from other world powers so far, which is something that would help the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement greatly. US President Donald Trump has declared them rioters and there has been no word from the Australian government which is heavily influenced by its economic dependence on China.

It is unclear what could happen next, but it is certain that the intensity of the fight will grow as both sides continue down a more extreme path. As long as the protesters continue to hurt the city financially their voices will be heard.

What do you think will happen next? Could this turn into a “Tiananmen 2” or will the government be forced to listen to the protesters demands? Let us know in the comments.

Sources

Use of tanks during the may 1968 France

https://people.howstuffworks.com/riot-control1.htm – for tactics used by riot squad police

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3020397/anti-riot-vehicles-equipped-water-cannons-begin-road – For tanks being equipped with water cannons to be used in Hong Kong

“May 68 and its Afterlives” – Kristin Ross

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ferguson-missouri-response-shows-police-use-of-military-equipment/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/768089/Tanks-used-against-trade-unions-communists-Liverpool-streets-1919-history-book – More use of tanks in Britain in 1919

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