Prominent pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien warned on Tuesday that the central government could send troops in to stifle the months-long unrest in Hong Kong if the SAR government is unable to quell the protests by early September.
Tien, a Roundtable lawmaker and member of the National People’s Congress, said he was informed about this deadline by a ‘reliable source.’
He said the leadership in Beijing is anxious to have positive media coverage of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, and will not risk the celebrations being overshadowed by anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.
“This is our 70th birthday. It’s a huge occasion… huge! The leadership in Beijing would obviously want all the media and the cameras around the world to focus on China’s achievements, with its military might, the parade, everything”, Tien said.
He said the last thing Beijing wants to see is attention focusing instead on violent clashes, or even a peaceful march involving hundreds of thousands of people here on that day.
“So from what I heard, they do have a timeline to settle the conflict in Hong Kong.”
If there are still mass anti-extradition demonstrations in the SAR in the run-up to October 1, Tien says there would only be two options: for the Chief Executive Carrie Lam to formally ask for help from the People’s Liberation Army, or for Beijing to unilaterally send in troops by declaring a state of emergency in Hong Kong under Article 18 of the Basic Law.
Tien said the next ten days will be a ‘golden opportunity’ for the government to take decisive steps to address the key demands of protesters, ahead of another planned peaceful rally on August 31.
“They have to start considering meeting those five demands partially, and my personal judgement is that of the five, the one or two most critical ones are… the complete withdrawal of the bill, and [setting up] the committee of inquiry”, he said.