Former Xinjiang paramilitary chief to lead Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong

Former paramilitary chief of the Xinjiang Peng Jingtang will lead Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong.

Citing PLA’s spokesman, state broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed the order of Peng’s appointment.

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Peng has vowed to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests, follow the command of the ruling Communist Party and Xi Jinping.

Peng will replace Chen Daoxiang, who is reaching the age of retirement. PLA soldiers have become more visible in Hong Kong under Chen’s leadership. They cleared debris following a clash between demonstrators and police during the 2019 protests.

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Peng was previously the deputy chief of staff of China’s paramilitary police force, the People’s Armed Police. 

He had also served as the chief of staff of the Armed Police Force in Xinjiang. Currently, he holds the rank of major general.

China has been accused by Washington of genocide in Xinjiang, a far-western region where human rights campaigners say authorities have detained vast numbers of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in camps and are stamping out their culture.

After passing the Hong Kong national security law, Beijing has been trying to remould the business hub in its own authoritarian image.

The PLA maintains a garrison in Hong Kong, but its activities are largely low-profile.

Under the city’s mini-constitution, Hong Kong has its own police force but China has maintained military barracks there since the 1997 handover when colonial Britain’s own forces left.

(With inputs from agencies)