It was a July of frustration and conflict in Hong Kong. But the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army sought to finish out the month yesterday on a militaristic high note, releasing a propaganda video that moves disturbingly from in-the-streets exercises in protest containment — with snipers in position and loudspeaker cries, in Cantonese, of “All consequences are your responsibility!” — to full-on missile strikes at sea.
The video, which has now been posted to YouTube, is being shared through a number of WeChat public accounts in China today, including the account of the website of China Daily, the English-language newspaper published by the State Council Information Office.
The title of the video, invoking a Xi Jinping phrase that has been used with much greater intensity this summer in the run-up to the anniversary of the founding of the PRC, is “Do Not Forget Our Original Aspirations, Defend Hong Kong” (不忘初心、守护香江).
The phrase, “Do not forget our original aspirations,” or buwang chuxin (不忘初心), is a reference to the original goals of the Chinese Communist Party, emphasizing the importance of its ideological stance in favor of so-called “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” It can be seen also as a phrase pleading for the relevance and legitimacy of the CCP as it faces immense headwinds both at home and internationally. For more analysis of the phrase, we recommend Willy Wo-Lap Lam’s analysis posted yesterday at the Jamestown Foundation.
The initial section of the video, marked with the characters “stability preservation,” or weiwen (维稳), in the upper left-hand corner, a reference to China’s domestic policy of suppressing unrest with paramilitary forces, shows scenes of PLA soldiers securing what look like typical Hong Kong streets and alleys, followed by a gaggle of stand-in protesters in what appears to be an exercise fleeing before an intimidating phalanx of soldiers with shields.
The message accompanying the PLA video reads:
Who are we?
The Hong Kong Garrison of the People’s Liberation Army is an important manifestation of national sovereignty; it is an important force in the protection of “one country, two systems”; it is an important foundation in protecting the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong!
What are we doing?
We are focussed on preparing for war, practicing the art of killing the enemy, our bows and swords always at the ready!
The Hong Kong Garrison is a stabilizing force for the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and we will resolutely implement the directives of the Central Party, the Central Military Commission and Chairman Xi, and resolutely support the government of the SAR and its chief executive, and the forces of patriotism in Hong Kong. We are determined, we have confidence, and we have the capacity to firmly defend our national sovereignty, security, and development interests. We are determined, we have confidence, and we have the capacity to protect the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.
It goes without saying that this is not at all what the South China Morning Post had in mind with its editorial calling for urgent actions to do something, and ensure something is seen to be done, to de-escalate the situation. The original video is posted below.