China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong released a video showing troops launching hand grenades and firing live rounds from rifles and pistols in the latest drill publicized by the garrison since the city’s new national security law took effect last week, local newspaper Apple Daily reported on Monday.
Released through the Hong Kong PLA garrison’s official WeChat (Chinese social media) account on Sunday, the video captures an exercise in which “fully equipped troops were dispatched early in the morning on an urgent mission.” According to the report, the practice mission entailed the following:
They [the PLA troops] were taken to the base by military vehicles and coaches, and each of them practiced throwing grenades onto a piece of grassland, the explosions sending plumes of water into the air. That was followed by images of soldiers in the heavy rain firing handguns, and then practicing with their rifles.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the PLA described the drill as “checking [soldiers’] abilities in emergency dispatch, mobilization, communication, and use of weapons.” According to the garrison, the drill also aimed to increase the troops’ ability to “endure hardship.”
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Antony Wong, described as a “military expert” by Apple Daily, told the newspaper that the video demonstrates that the PLA is training “to target fugitives under the new [national security] law, and the use of hand grenades could signal that the army was preparing itself for urban warfare.”
The troops in the video appeared to be using “No. 82-type hand grenades,” Wong said. “These have a destructive power somewhere between mortars and bazookas and would be lethal weapons if they were used in an urban environment, with a high chance of civilian casualties,” the military expert explained.
“Rather than focusing on the type and use of weapons, it is the intended targets of drills that should be of prime concern,” Wong advised. Recently publicized [Hong Kong garrison] drills show that the PLA has in mind “a specific target,” Wong claimed, adding that “Chinese authorities have been framing [Hong Kong] protesters as an emergent ‘terrorist’ threat.”
Recently released Hong Kong garrison training videos have shown the PLA “intercepting fugitives who attempted to flee the city by boat,” according to Apple Daily. Other footage released by the garrison on June 28 – two days before the national security law took effect – showed snipers practicing live-fire training that was designed to prepare troops for “actual combat,” a senior PLA officer in the video said.
Hong Kong’s new national security law went into effect last week and officially punishes acts of “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.” The law effectively eliminates Hong Kong citizens’ rights to free speech and assembly guaranteed under the city’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy, which was enacted in 1997 when Hong Kong was handed back to China from Britain following colonial rule.
Over the past year, Hong Kong police have increasingly cracked down on a widespread pro-democracy movement in the city lead by peaceful activists protesting China’s encroachment on their limited civil rights. Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon and prominent figure in the city’s pro-democracy movement, owns Apple Daily.