SHANGHAI—Beijing has appointed a former paramilitary chief, Peng Jingtang, as the new commander of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong, state broadcaster CCTV reported late on Sunday citing the PLA’s spokesman.
Peng, who holds the rank of major general, was previously the deputy chief of staff of China’s paramilitary police force, the People’s Armed Police. His appointment was signed into order by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, state media said.
According to another state-run media Global Times, published by the Chinese regime’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, Peng was previously also chief of staff of the Armed Police Force in Xinjiang, where victims, activists, non-profits, and several western governments including Washington says Beijing is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other minority ethnic groups. The regime denies abuses in Xinjiang.
The PLA maintains a garrison in Hong Kong, but its activities are largely low-profile. Under the global financial hub’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, defence and foreign affairs are managed by communist party leaders in Beijing.
CCTV also quoted Peng as saying that he would in his new appointment work with all members of the garrison to follow the command of the ruling communist party and its leader Xi, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that the communist party would not interfere with local governance for decades, and that wide-ranging individual rights would be protected.
But pro-democracy activists and rights groups say freedoms have been eroded, in particular since Beijing imposed a the part’s so-called “national security law” after months of pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing authorities and Beijing deny curbing freedoms and say the law was necessary to restore order after prolonged anti-Chinese regime protests.