The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong has released a viral video showing recent training exercises in which the PLA prepares to fight urban warfare as well as a number of other related forms of combat. At the end of the video, interviews with several Hong Kong civilians are shown in which a general expression of patriotism and pride is offered for the PLA and Chinese state institutions.
The Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) shows support for #HongKong SAR government through a promo video on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo on Wednesday #香港 pic.twitter.com/PwfgCtShft
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 31, 2019
Far from being leaked to non-Chinese media, Chinese media outlets proudly posted the video on international social media platforms with English subtitles. As such, it can be reasonably concluded that the video is meant as much for an international audience as it is for a domestic audience. That being said, the importance of the video to these various audiences is somewhat different.
Thus far, the policing of the riots in Hong Kong has been incredibly lax by international standards. Whilst several French Yellow Vest protesters have been blinded and maimed by French riot police, the police in Hong Kong have taken something of a “softly-softly” approach.
There is however a downside to the fact that Hong Kong’s police are behaving in a gentler manner than the infamous CRS in France. Many ordinary people in Hong Kong are growing sick and tired of the agitations. They fear for their safety after rioters have begun attacking and harassing elderly civilians. Others have begun to worry about the long term negative economic effects that the protests have had on Hong Kong. Also, as protesters have turned their ire on south Asian (Pakistani, India, Bangladeshi, Nepali) immigrants, there is now a racist element to the protests as well.
When taken as a whole, the rioters have attacked the old and vulnerable, ordinary businesses, self-evidently poorly guarded government buildings and non-Chinese immigrants. Such acts are not only criminal and sinister but are incredibly cowardly. When one understands this it becomes easy to see how such bullies would be incredibly frightened of taking on one of the most powerful armed forces in the world. Whilst there is no immediate sign that the PLA will intervene to restore the peace, the implication in the video is that the PLA will move if necessary and when this happens, the criminals will be immediately brought to justice.
The video has sent what is possibly an even more important message to the world outside of China. As several western countries continue to take it upon themselves to meddle in the internal situation in Hong Kong, the video has made it clear that if one seeks to foment lawlessness in Hong Kong, they will ultimately be taking on the PLA. This is not a military threat aimed at any foreign entity or any foreign individuals but it nevertheless makes it clear that if one wants to molest the equanimity of any part of China – China stands ready to defend its interests using every tool at its disposal.
For both the agitators in the streets and those abroad taking an anti-Chinese position, the video is one part high level trolling and one part earnest warning. Those who think that China is going to remain a sleeping giant forever may learn valuable lessons if they insist on poking the giant with a jagged rod. That being said, the point of the video is not to literally threaten but to psychologically shock those who view China as a country that can be molested without retribution being on the table.