China’s top military commander in Hong Kong has emphasized the role of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in upholding “national sovereignty” in the city a day ahead of expected anti-government protests.
Chen Daoxiang, the PLA commander in Hong Kong, was speaking days after China announced plans to introduce a draconian new national security law which threatens many of the semi-autonomous city’s civil liberties and political freedoms.
“Garrison officers and soldiers are determined, confident, and capable of safeguarding national sovereignty and development interests and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” Chen said Tuesday, adding that the Hong Kong Garrison viewed the national security law as “conducive to deter separatist forces and external intervention.”
Almost every official department in Hong Kong has issued statements of support for the proposed law this week — from the police to the fire department and the Government Flying Service. The PLA Garrison has also made similar statements about its role in the past.Chen’s words do carry some extra weight, however, given the uneasy status of the PLA in the city.