fredag 26. juli 2019

Why Beijing won’t send in the PLA, for now

Suddenly, everyone is digging out their copy of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, to look up Article 14 and Article 18. Both articles specify the conditions under which People’s Liberation Army troops may be deployed in the city. There is also the Garrison Law. Together, they provide plenty of legal cover to send in troops to quell the unrest. But, of course, Beijing won’t do it. Why? Because, among other things, there is an implicit understanding against such an eventuality between Beijing and Washington, just like there was between Beijing and London during the colonial era.

Some people have panicked since defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian criticised “radicals” who laid siege to Beijing’s liaison office in Western district and cited the Garrison Law. The rally on Sunday was interpreted as a direct challenge to the central government. The fear is that Beijing will not take that lying down. No, it won’t, but there are many ways it could punish Hong Kong without sending in troops.