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China deploys new batch of troops in Hong Kong

HONG KONG: China has deployed a new batch of troops in Hong Kong which replaced the existing contingents.

State media described the move as routine amid protests against Beijing continue to rock the Asian financial hub.

Chinese state media described the troop movement in the early hours as routine, while Asian and Western diplomats watching PLA movements in the former British colony had been expecting it.

Even if the rotation is described as routine, the timing is likely to hit nerves in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997.

In recent weeks, China has raised more alarms in Hong Kong after it was revealed that Chinese forces were massing across the border in Shenzhen.

China had also warned that Beijing would not “sit by and watch” as the unrest in the semi-autonomous Chinese city continues.

The Chinese statement last year said the number of soldiers and amount of equipment of the troops stationed in Hong Kong “was maintained with no change”.

That was not in Thursday’s announcement.

China’s military will make even greater “new” contributions to maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, state news agency Xinhua cited the People’s Liberation Army garrison in the territory as saying.

The military has completed a routine troop rotation in Hong Kong, with air, land and maritime forces having entered the territory, the report said.

Observers estimate the Hong Kong garrison numbers between 8,000 and 10,000 troops, split between bases in southern China and a network of former British army barracks in Hong Kong.