China yesterday sent fresh troops to Hong Kong as part of a "routine" garrison rotation, as the territory braced for a new round of violent protests after police refused permission for a mass rally this weekend.
In reporting the 22 annual maneuver, which it described as "a normal routine annual rotation", the news agency said PLA troops "have grasped the ability to defend Hong Kong".
Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways on Tuesday said it had launched an investigation after a dozen oxygen bottles used by cabin crew in emergencies were found empty, or partially empty, on two of its aircraft.
"You can see the police's course of action is intensifying, and you can see (Hong Kong leader) Carrie Lam has in fact no intention to let Hong Kong return to peace", he said.
ROUTINE ROTATION? People's Liberation Army soldiers arrive in Hong Kong from mainland China during a routine rotation of personnel.
He said the impact of the current violent protests has not yet been clearly revealed in the market, warning its long-term effect on Hong Kong's economy and the market could be very far-reaching and much broader.
Beijing is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, when Mr Xi will oversee a large military parade in the Chinese capital.
Universities in Hong Kong are attractive options for mainland Chinese students, but the protest has sparked concerns about its attractiveness to future Chinese employers.
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The Chinese statement past year said the number of soldiers and amount of equipment of the troops stationed in Hong Kong "was maintained with no change".
Cathay has become a symbol of the danger companies face in Hong Kong as they seek to steer clear of angering Beijing - Chinese authorities imposed a swathe of demands on the airline over its workers' participation in the demonstrations.
Officers must "firmly safeguard the "southern gate" of our national political security", he said, alluding to the crisis in Hong Kong without directly mentioning the ongoing demonstrations.
Applications to authorities for a Letter of No Objection covering both days of public meetings and processions have been filed by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.
Sham said he was attacked on Thursday as he ate lunch by two "masked men armed with a baseball bat and a long knife", but escaped unhurt. "We have repeatedly stressed that Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs and that no foreign government, organization or individual has the right to intervene", he said.
The last rotation of the Hong Kong garrison occurred one year prior.
Chan stressed the financial risks in Hong Kong are controllable, with its capital adequacy ratio and liquidity coverage ratio in the banking system much higher than worldwide standards, but the HKSAR government would continue to monitor the market to prevent possible risks. Troops stationed in Macao, another special administrative region, also completed a rotation on Thursday.
The Hong Kong protest shows no signs of slowing down.