HONG KONG – The Chinese military began sending a new group of troops to Hong Kong on Thursday, a move it described as a normal annual rotation of its garrison in the city, but one that has been closely watched over months of political turmoil.
"This rotation is an annual routine routine approved by the Central Military Commission," Lt. Col. Han Ti, spokesman for the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army, said in a written statement.
The Xinhua State News Agency publishes photos of trucks carrying troops, armored personnel carriers and a ship entering the city under the guise of early morning darkness.
Following the rotation of troops last year, the military stated that the number of troops and equipment was the same as the previous year. Lieutenant Colonel Khan's statement this year does not include such a statement, which fuels speculation that the military is expanding its strength in Hong Kong.
The city is in the midst of the biggest political crisis since the show, with almost daily protests. against the government, including some who have turned violent, with demonstrators throwing stones and even fire bombs at police. An officer fired a warning shot Sunday when a group of protesters with sticks and metal poles charged a group of police officers.
Chinese authorities have warned that the military may be called upon to respond to the protests. In recent weeks, Chinese police and paramilitary forces have been conducting exercises in Shenzhen, a mainland city bordering Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Government had previously denied calling on the military for help.