Feared Fighter Violence Uyghurs Comes to Hong Kong
The chief of a counter-terrorism unit of the paramilitary police in Xinjiang, China, where the Uyghur minority is being oppressed, is the new head of the Chinese army in Hong Kong. Chinese state media reports that Peng Jingtang has been promoted to commander.
The appointment comes at a time of growing international concern about Hong Kong, where freedoms are being curtailed under Beijing’s influence. Hong Kong has no army, only police, but Chinese troops are stationed in the semi-autonomous region. This is regulated in the Basic Law of 1997, which stipulates that Hong Kong has its own status and governance within China.
Hong Kong people’s dissatisfaction with Chinese influence led to mass protests in 2019 and 2020. The participants demanded more democracy. Beijing saw some actions as terrorism and separatism, terms that are also used when it comes to Xinjiang. The central government in Hong Kong has introduced a national security law that could be used to crack down on activists.
China has been accused by the United States of genocide in Xinjiang against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, who are being held en masse in camps. Beijing denies genocide and says tough action in Xinjiang is needed to end Islamist extremism and separatism in the region.
Reports in Chinese media suggest that Hong Kong’s new army commander Peng led a counter-terrorism unit set up in Xinjiang for “needs within the region and across China.” He succeeds Chen Daoxiang, who is about to retire. Under Chen’s leadership, the troops in Hong Kong became more visible. For example, the Chinese military helped clean up after protests in Hong Kong got out of hand.