Here Come the Troops

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HONG KONG: China will move 4,000 troops into Hong Kong just six hours after it regains control over the British colony, sparking fears among democratic activists that a crackdown on civil liberties cannot be far behind. Although the planned deployment would roughly match current British troop levels, today's announcement by the incoming government of Tung Chee-hwa was met with derision by colonial Governor Chris Patten. He warned that the sight of armored cars in the streets on July 1 would send "a very bad signal to Hong Kong and the rest of the world." To reach their barracks on Hong Kong Island, the 21 armored cars arriving with the deployment will have to pass through some of Hong Kong's most crowded urban districts. The new troops will join a contingent of 200 unarmed People's Liberation Army troops and 509 lightly armed soldiers.