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Chinese troop presence in Hong Kong doubled: report

Chinese troop presence in Hong Kong doubled: report
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Beijing has reportedly doubled the number of Chinese troops in Hong Kong amid ongoing protests, leading to the largest build-up ever in the semi-autonomous region.

Reuters reports that some of the troops in Hong Kong are members of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, which has previously been deployed to put down unrest in Tibet and the Xinjiang province, where Beijing has detained members of the Uighur minority.

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Hong Kong is on high alert ahead of Tuesday's festivities for National Day, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China. City officials have already canceled a planned fireworks display and moved events inside.

While Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed the possibility that the troops would be used to put down the protests, she also said leaving crowd control entirely to the city’s police force was not sustainable, according to Reuters.

“Apart from the 30,000 men and women in the [police] force we have nothing,” she told a gathering of businesspeople. “Really. We have nothing. I have nothing.”

“[China does] seem to have an active contingency plan to deal with something like a total breakdown in order by the Hong Kong police,” Alexander Neill, a Singapore-based security analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters.

“I would think it would take something like that or some other worst-case scenario for them to deploy. But they are clearly more ready than before, and are leaving nothing to chance,” he added.

Beijing has repeatedly condemned the protests and suggested they were orchestrated by the United States.

The protests began over the summer in response to a since-scrapped bill that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to China. Since the bill was pulled, protests have continued, with demonstrators expressing dismay at what they believe is the city’s eroding autonomy and calling for Lam’s resignation and a probe into police tactics.