Armoured China vehicles cause alarm, test limits in Hong Kong

The vehicles, with short guns mounted on turrets, were spotted at a time of heightened public discontent in the semi-autonomous Hong Kong over perceived interference by Beijing and a debate over how the next chief executive will be chosen under planned reforms. Beijing has promised the former British colony will be able to vote for its own leader in 2017. But it has insisted on vetting candidates through a pro-Beijing nominating committee, a move activists fear would disqualify anyone critical of the mainland authorities.

We are prepared to organise our protest actions, wave after wave.

protest leader Benny Tai

Beijing is expected to recommend restricting the first direct elections for the Chinese-controlled financial hub’s leader, stepping up chances of a showdown with democracy groups. Hong Kong, which was handed back to China in 1997, has been the scene of escalating tension for the past year after activists threatened a mass sit-in paralyzing the financial district if Beijing rules out genuine democratic reforms. Tanks are often viewed by Hong Kongers as a symbol of Beijing’s autocratic tendencies.