China has deployed soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to help clear the barricades set up by protesters on Saturday.
— RTHK English News (@rthk_enews) November 16, 2019
Dressed in shorts and T-shirts, the soldiers jogged to Hong Kong Baptist University from their barracks in Kowloon, according to The Guardian.
The soldiers joined a group of residents to move the desks, signposts and bricks that protesters built to stop riot police from entering the campus.
Opposing lawmakers criticized the PLA’s involvement in the cleaning process near the university on Saturday, Daily Herald reported.
Although there are approximately 12,000 PLA staff stationed in Hong Kong, the soldiers can only be deployed to help with disaster relief or maintain public order at the request of the Hong Kong government.
However, the government said it did not send out a request to the PLA, and described their action as a voluntary community activity.
Clashes continue in other universities in Hong Kong. A media liaison officer was injured by an arrow during the clash between the police and protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University last week, Reuters reported.
In a recent broadcast statement via Facebook, police warned protesters who barricaded themselves inside the university not to use weapons.
“I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers,” police spokesman Louis Lau said, BBC reported. “If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back.”
Several universities in Hong Kong have already canceled classes for the rest of the semester. Foreign students from Australia, the UK, Taiwan and Europe have been encouraged to return home, while mainland Chinese students were evacuated.
Despite the bill being officially withdrawn, protesters still have four other demands that the government has yet to fulfill: “For the protests not to be characterized as a ‘riot’,” “Amnesty for arrested protesters,” “An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality” and “Implementation of complete universal suffrage.”
Feature Image Screenshot via VOA News