The People’s Republic of China will mark the 70th anniversary of its founding Tuesday, but celebrations in Hong Kong will be muted as the city braces for protests that could turn violent.
Police said they would deploy about 6,000 officers across common protest areas. Monday, police spokesman John Tse Chun-chung described violence at protests over the weekend as “one step closer to terrorism" – a term frequently used by the Beijing government to describe months of massive street demonstrations.
“There are apparent signs that hard-core violence will escalate" on National Day, Tse said. He accused protest leaders of “inciting others, including those with suicidal tendency, to commit extreme acts such as murdering police, disguising as officers to kill others and setting fires."
Lawmaker Claudia Mo dismissed the police intel as "Chinese propaganda at play.” She ripped police for infiltrating protests with undercover officers, suggesting they could be responsible for igniting violence.
Why National Day is historic for China
National Day marks the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 in the waning days of the Chinese Civil War. Chiang Kai-shek’s government fled to Taiwan, leaving Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party to seize power in mainland China. The revered "Chairman Mao" led the party and country until his death in 1976.
Plans for National Day in Beijing and Hong Kong
In Beijing, a massive military parade and fireworks will highlight the day. In Hong Kong, a fireworks display and horse racing festival were canceled because of security concerns. Plans in the city call for a flag-raising ceremony at the city's convention center and an indoor reception, but the public will be barred.
China's control of Hong Kong
Hong Kong was controlled by Great Britain for more than 150 years until 1997, when it ceded control to China. The wealthy, free-market city became a special administrative region that was promised a “high degree of autonomy" for 50 years.
What to know about conflicts and protests
Pro-democracy residents of Hong Kong have long accused China of slowly encroaching on that autonomy. The issue ignited massive protests after a government proposal to change extradition laws to allow suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trial. The Hong Kong government withdrew the proposal, but protesters have seized the momentum to press demands for more freedoms and investigations into police behavior during the protests.
What's the US' position on protests?
Congressional leaders blamed the Chinese government for the unrest and warned Beijing against using force to quell protests. President Donald Trump, locked in a trade war with China, has generally avoided criticizing Beijing for its handling of the unrest. Last month, he described the situation as "tough" and "tricky."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: China National Day: What to know about Hong Kong celebration, protests