Irish missionaries based in turbulent Hong Kong are split on whether the military will take to the streets once more as fears of intervention from mainland China grow.
Hong Kong has been wracked by increasingly violent mass protests for several months, with millions taking part.
Irish Columban Fr Michael Cuddigan SSC told The Irish Catholic: “The great fear is that mainland China will come in on the heavy with their troops, they are practicing in Shenzhen which is just over the border but I think the memory of Tiananmen Square will slow them down and plus they want to look good in front of the world,” he said.
Fr Cuddigan, originally from Midleton in Cork, has been in Hong Kong for seven years and is currently the rector of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.
He said it’s likely the protests are “going to continue a lot longer”.
Pictures emerged over the weekend of police pointing loaded guns at protesters and warning shots being fired. Authorities used water cannons for the first time on Sunday.
Protestors threw bricks and petrol bombs while police fired teargas and gave beatings. It’s reported 86 people were detained over the weekend.
This comes despite calls from clergy, many of whom took part in some of the marches, and the Hong Kong diocese for peace.
The sightings of paramilitary police doing drills in the Chinese border city of Shenzhen at a football stadium were reported several weeks ago.
Based at Wah Yan College in Kowloon, Fr John Russell SJ (93) who has been in the region since 1951, said he is not concerned about the mass protests, dubbing Hong Kong a “safe place”.
He said military intervention is “most unlikely” as “that would be the end of ‘one country, two systems’. I don’t have any fear of that”.
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