Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam went to Beijing on Monday with a 240-strong delegation of loyalists and will sit in the VIP sections at the Tiananmen Gate on Tuesday, when Xi Jinping is expected to emerge from a Hongqi, or Red Flag, cabriolet to inspect a military parade to mark 70 years of Communist rule.
But Lam will rush back to Hong Kong to her protest-weary city via Shenzhen at noon on Tuesday, according to a government announcement.
She has to hurry back to coordinate police deployment and other riot and emergency measures to ensure the big demonstrations in Hong Kong on Tuesday – which are sure to happen – will not get too chaotic and steal the limelight from Xi’s big party in Beijing.
Hong Kong business tycoon Micheal Tien, who is also a delegate to the Chinese National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, told reporters he feared that “some serious incidents” could happen and it made sense for Lam to cut her trip short.
Hong Kong police appeared to be escalating their tactics while dealing with the past weekend’s protests. Riot squads and the force’s ace Special Tactical Contingent, known as the Rapators, were seen dispersing demonstrators and passers-by with some bundled into police vehicles even before the start of a planned rally on Hong Kong Island on Sunday.
It was believed the force sought to pre-empt radicals and nab some core organizers so they could not stir up trouble on October 1, as the police can hold an arrested person for up to 48 hours before a charge has to be laid against them.
Hong Kong papers say more than 100 arrests were made on Sunday, including a high school student who was allegedly beaten up by constables even after he was subdued.
All active members of the force have either been mobilized or have been on standby since Monday to ensure adequate manpower to respond to emergencies that may happen in protest hotspots, including at the government headquarters compound in Admiralty and at Beijing’s liaison office in Sai Wan. Reinforcements can be drawn in swiftly.
A heavy police presence was already seen in those areas on Monday.
Previously, Chinese State Councillor and Minister for Public Security Zhao Kezhi was appointed to the Communist Party’s top working group on Hong Kong as Beijing expands the top task force in light of the months-long turmoil engulfing the former British colony.
It was also said that “heads will roll” at the Chinese State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Beijing’s liaison office in the city. HKMAO’s director Zhang Xiaoming was absent from a National Day reception in Beijing co-hosted by his office for Hong Kong patriots during the past weekend.
Meanwhile, retired Deputy Police Commissioner Alan Lau, who was called back to the force in early August on an ad hoc basis to strategize plans to police public processions amid Hong Kong’s protests of attrition, noted in a recent letter to all frontline officers that the ongoing smear campaign against the police – once regarded as “Asia’s finest” – was “the biggest lie and conspiracy” in the world.
Lau saluted the 30,000-plus officers in the force for helping the city survive the most chaotic time seen in decades.
Some observers saw Lau’s letter as proof of the police nearing their breaking point as fatigue and frustration kick in, while Beijing and the Hong Kong government rely on the force to quell the unrest in the absence of a political solution.
A small delegation of 10 representatives from the police force has already been invited to tour Beijing and attend the celebrations. Members include a superintendent who leveled his shotgun at protesters to scare them off when he was besieged during a pitched street battle and a constable whose finger was bitten off by a radical he was trying to arrest. The delegation also paid a visit to the Public Security Ministry.
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