On August 13, U.S. President Donald Trump posted an ominous tweet: “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”
His pronouncement followed widespread reports about “armored personnel carriers (APC), trucks and other vehicles of the [People’s] Armed Police [PAP]… heading in the direction of Shenzhen over the weekend.” Shenzhen, in China’s Guangdong province, is the closest city on the mainland to Hong Kong. Satellite photos released to the media of Maxar’s WorldView appear to show “500 or more” PAP vehicles parked in a soccer stadium in Shenzhen, according to the Associated Press.
Chinese state media outlets carried photographs and videos of the vehicles traveling to Shenzhen. The Global Times reported that the PAP was massing in Shenzhen “for apparent large-scale exercises” – but both it and the People’s Daily pointedly noted that “The tasks and missions of the Armed Police include participating in dealing with rebellions, riots, serious violent and illegal incidents, terrorist attacks and other social security incidents.”