TODAY |

Hundreds of Chinese armoured vehicles grouped in city bordering Hong Kong

Satellite photos show what appear to be armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles belonging to the China's paramilitary People's Armed Police parked in a sports complex in the city of Shenzhen, in what some have interpreted as a threat from Beijing to use increased force against pro-democracy protestors across the border in Hong Kong.

The pictures collected by Maxar's WorldView show 500 or more vehicles sitting on and around the soccer stadium at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre just across the harbour from the Asian financial hub that has been rocked by more than two months of near-daily street demonstrations.

Flights at Hong Kong's airport, one of the world's busiest, were disrupted on Tuesday and Wednesday by a mass demonstration and occasional violence inside its terminal.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Departing flights have been cancelled for a second day. Source: BBC

Chinese state media have said only that the Shenzhen exercises had been planned before hand and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong, although they came shortly after the central government in Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the "sprouts of terrorism."

President Donald Trump tweeted that US intelligence believes that the Chinese government is moving troops to its border with Hong Kong and that, "Everyone should be calm and safe!"

Beijing has been apparently reluctant to send in police or army units from the mainland or to mobilise the People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong to quell the unrest. It's seen as mindful of the devastating effect that would have both on the territory's reputation as a safe and stable place to invest in, and as indication of the Communist Party's failure to win over the hearts and minds of the city's 7.3 million residents, 22 years after the former British colony was handed over to China.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Two Air NZ return services have been cancelled this week as protestors gather at the airport. Source: 1 NEWS

It would also be a shocking reminder of the PLA's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square 30 years ago, which remains a taboo subject in China but is memorialised with a massive rally and march each year in Hong Kong.

Yet, mainland China is believed to have already dispatched officers to fortify the ranks of the Hong Kong police, and may also have planted decoys among the protestors in order to encourage more violent acts that could eventually turn ordinary Hong Kongers against the protest movement.

Such a change in sentiments does not yet appear to have happened despite rising violence surrounding protests and the shutdown of the city's usually bustling international airport for two days after it was occupied by demonstrators.

A satellite image appears to show Chinese security force vehicles inside the Shenzen Bay Sports Centre in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong. Source: Associated Press


More From