Hong Kong (AFP) – Beijing warned Thursday that it will not “sit by and watch” the unrest unfolding in Hong Kong, as US President Donald Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet with pro-democracy protesters and make a deal.
Amid growing concerns that China is considering direct intervention in the crisis, US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned it against creating a “new” Tiananmen Square, referring to the infamous 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing.
Images taken by AFP on Thursday showed thousands of Chinese military personnel waving red flags and parading at a sports stadium in the city of Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong.
Dozens of armoured personnel carriers and supply trucks were also parked nearby.
Chinese state-run media reported this week that the elements of the People’s Armed Police (PAP), which is under the command of the Central Military Commission, were assembling in Shenzhen.
China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, said Thursday that Beijing would not “sit by and watch”, warning that his government had “enough solutions and enough power to quell the unrest swiftly”.
Trump urged a peaceful solution on Thursday, tweeting that if Xi “would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem.”
Washington has become increasingly alarmed by Chinese security forces gathering near the border with Hong Kong as the protests show no signs of abating and Beijing intensifies its drumbeat of intimidation against a movement pushing for democratic reforms.
In an interview with VOA News published Thursday, Bolton said that “people in America remember Tiananmen Square,” warning China that “it would be a big mistake to create a new memory like that in Hong Kong.”
The previous day, Trump linked a possible trade deal with Beijing to a peaceful resolution to the political unrest that has roiled the semi-autonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks.
“Millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving. Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!” Trump tweeted, in the first clear indication that the trade deal could be threatened by how Beijing reacts to the protests.