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China's People's Liberation Army soldiers in shorts and t-shirts made a surprising appearance on the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday, helping residents clean up debris and barricades after anti-government protests blocked roads.
The presence of PLA troops on the streets, even to help clean up roads near their base, could enrage protesters and stoke further controversy over the Chinese-ruled territory's autonomous status.
Soldiers - Hong - Kong - Garrison - Number
Up to 12,000 soldiers are now believed to be based across Hong Kong - more than double the usual garrison number, foreign envoys and security analysts estimate.
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Colony - Months - Demonstrations - Protesters - Communist
The former British colony has been rocked by more than five months of demonstrations, with pro-democracy protesters angry at perceived Communist Party meddling in a city guaranteed its freedoms when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Clashes between protesters and police have become increasingly violent, and China has warned that any attempt at independence for Hong Kong will be crushed, but the military have remained inside their base.
Afternoon - Soldiers - Streets - Baptist - University
By late afternoon, the soldiers had left the streets outside Baptist University, which neighbours their barracks in the leafy district of Kowloon Tong.
Chinese troops have appeared on local streets only once since the 1997 handover, to help with cleanup operations after a typhoon in late 2018....
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