HONG KONG: Hong Kong democracy advocates expressed alarm after Chinese army vehicles were photographed travelling down a major thoroughfare, in what they condemned as a show of “military might” ahead of expected protests.
At least four People’s Liberation Army armoured personnel carriers were seen in the small hours of Thursday near the busy Jordan and Yau Ma Tei regions of the city, the Apple Daily newspaper reported.
The vehicles, with short guns mounted on turrets, were spotted at a time of heightened public discontent in the semi-autonomous city over perceived interference by Beijing and a debate over how the next chief executive will be chosen under planned reforms.
Beijing has promised the former British colony will be able to vote for its own leader in 2017.
But it has insisted on vetting candidates through a pro-Beijing nominating committee, a move activists fear would disqualify anyone critical of the mainland authorities.
A pro-democracy group, Occupy Central, has pledged to mobilise thousands of protesters to block the financial district if authorities refuse to allow the public to choose candidates.
Organisers plan to hold a rally tomorrow when the top committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature is expected to announce its decision on what form the political changes will take.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency warned early yesterday in a strongly worded article that the central government has “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and “will always be involved” in its affairs.