Security buffer to halt unrest spread

Top News | Staff Reporter 19 Jul 2019

Shenzhen police and border security officers are on alert at all checkpoints, fearing Hong Kong protests could spill over to the neighboring city, according to a source.

It is understood that the Public Security Bureau recently have briefed police and port control officials, asking them to strengthen patrols and deploy more officers to exits at border points with Hong Kong.

The mainland authorities also fear that protesters' sentiments may influence mainlanders into holding demonstrations.

Officials have been told to conduct car patrols more frequently and station police cars at vantage points near the checkpoints, the source said.

Many more policemen have been deployed at the Shenzhen side of border checkpoints connecting to Hong Kong, such as Huanggang, Futian and Lo Wu ports.

Instead of the routine two to three uniformed officers with few weapons, several small squads of three to five officers - each equipped with long and short shields - stand at the footbridge outside the Huanggang Port area that connects to Hong Kong.

Police have also barred illegal taxis from waiting for customers at the port to stop cars lingering.

Police car patrols have been more frequent around the streets leading to the city.

Officers have been reminded to pay attention to groups of people crossing the checkpoint wearing black - the dress code of anti-fugitive bill protesters in Hong Kong.

Also fueling concerns have been protests in Wuhan, Hubei province, where thousands of residents have been taking to the streets against the construction of an incinerator since late last month.

Videos of protests with police trying to stop the rallies had been beamed online abroad until July 5 when footage showed tanks rolling into what was believed to be Wuhan.

A news blackout has since been imposed.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, convener of the Independent Commentators Association, said though Wuhan is far from Hong Kong, mainland authorities worry that activists in Wuhan and elsewhere might learn from the protests in Hong Kong.

With Guangdong's "gene of rebellion," Lui said it was possible mainland authorities have assessed the risk of copycat protests in the province, especially in Shenzhen.

He said there were several aspects of anti-fugitive bill protests that the mainland feared, including the "be water" strategy using online platforms for organizational work.

The strategy generally means not to settle on one form, but to adapt, be fluid, and flow - like water.

Wilson Wong Wai-ho, associate professor at Chinese University's department of government and public administration, said the Hong Kong government may consider easing the social tension by granting one of five demands of the protesters, such as an independent inquiry into the confrontations.

He believes Beijing is concerned about the recent happenings, adding the central government may consider restarting discussions on political reform as a way out.

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