China has characterized the ongoing antigovernment protests in Hong Kong as a "color revolution" for the first time, a reference to uprisings aimed at replacing the government, sparking speculation that an armed intervention could be imminent.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Office of the State Council, made the remarks on Wednesday at a closed-door symposium in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, which borders with Hong Kong. "The movement about the extradition bill has gone bad, and it has the clear characteristics of a color revolution," Zhang noted. More than 550 people attended the meeting, including Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
"Hong Kong is facing the most serious situation since its return to China,” Zhang said. "If the situation in Hong Kong continues to worsen into unrest that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government cannot control, the central government will not sit back and do nothing… According to the Basic Law (of Hong Kong), the central authorities have ample methods as well as sufficient strength to promptly settle any possible turmoil," he said.
Xiakedao, the official social media account of the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper Renminribao (People's Daily), which offers its interpretations of the party's intentions, said that this is the first time the Chinese central government used "color revolution" to describe the protests in Hong Kong, adding that it is a "clear signal" from Beijing to the protesters in Hong Kong. Color revolution refers to various movements for a change of government in some countries in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Middle East since the 1990s.
The Chinese leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, showed strong wariness about a color revolution early this year. At a meeting with senior law-enforcement officials in January, China's State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi urged China's police to "stress the prevention and resistance of 'color revolutions' and firmly fight to protect China's political security" and to "strike back against all kinds of infiltration and subversive activities by hostile foreign forces."
According to Chinese media, Zhang quoted former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's remarks about sending Chinese troops to Hong Kong, saying, "Deng was far-sighted." Wang Zhimin, director of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said that the most urgent thing is to put the chaos under control to restore order, asserting that it is now a "battle of life and death" for Hong Kong’s future and "battle to defend Hong Kong."
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org