“The officers and soldiers of the garrison are determined, confident and capable of safeguarding the national sovereignty and development interests as well as the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” said Chen on Tuesday, adding that the Hong garrison Kong viewed the national security law as “conducive” to deter separatist forces and outside intervention. “
Chen’s words, however, carry additional weight, given the APL’s difficult status in the city.
The national security bill – which also allows Chinese security services to operate in Hong Kong for the first time – has raised concerns among city residents that PLA members may be deployed to the streets in the event of resumption of violent demonstrations.
In mainland China, extensive national security laws have been used to target human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and pro-democracy activists.
The bill has sparked outrage in the city and the international community. This week, the Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily published a full-page insert calling on US President Donald Trump to intervene on behalf of the city. In an interview with CNN, the newspaper’s editor Jimmy Lai said that Trump “is the only one who can save us.”
On Sunday, an unauthorized demonstration in response to the bill encountered a heavy police presence. Several thousand people had planned to march on Hong Kong Island, but they were quickly dispersed with tear gas, batons, and water cannons.
Another protest is expected on Wednesday as Hong Kong lawmakers meet to discuss a national anthem bill. Although the legislation is not linked to the national security bill, it is another law that was imposed on the city by Beijing.
Protesters called for people to assemble in front of the Legislative Council early Wednesday to try to repeat their success last year, when they succeeded in preventing lawmakers from debating an extradition bill with the China, which was eventually withdrawn.
Such a development is unlikely this week, as police plan to deploy thousands of officers to guard an already fortified legislature.
Also on Tuesday, city chief Carrie Lam said Hong Kongers should not be concerned about the law, although she was not drawn to specific fears as she said she had not yet been written.
“There is nothing to worry about because in the past 23 years, every time people have worried about Hong Kong’s freedoms of expression and protest, Hong Kong has proven time and time again that we stand up for and preserve those values, ”she said. “I think the best thing is to see the legislation before us and understand why Hong Kong needs this legislation today, for the benefit of the vast majority of the people of Hong Kong. “
CNN’s Isaac Yee and Vanesse Chan contributed to the report.