Brand new violence erupted around a besieged Hong Kong college campus on Sunday morning, since protesters braced for a potential closing authorities push to clean them following fiery clashes overnight.
Huge fires had lit up at the nighttime skies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon district hours before as protesters hurled petrol bombs, a few by catapult, and police fired volleys of tear gas to induce them up on the podium of their red-brick campus.
Following several quiet hours since protesters slept on yards and at the college library, authorities fired new rounds of teargas soon after 10 am. Activists hurled petrol bombs in return, a few igniting trees away from the campus.
Months before, squads of soldiers dressed in shorts and T-shirts, a few carrying red plastic ribbons or brooms, emerged out of their barracks at a rare public appearance to help citizens clear debris blocking key roads.
"We do not wish to assault law enforcement, we only wish to protect our campus….and we would like to protect Hong Kong," said Chan, 20, a year-three pupil in the university who didn't need to provide her entire name.
The campus would be the final of five universities to be inhabited, with activists with it as a foundation to continue to obstruct the city's fundamental cross-harbour road tunnel.
The existence of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in the roads, to help tidy up, could stoke additional controversy over Hong Kong's autonomous status in a time many dread Beijing is tightening its grip on the city.
Hong Kong didn't request help in the PLA and the army pioneered the surgery as a"voluntary community action", a spokesman for the town's authorities said.
Pro-democracy lawmakers condemned the PLA's activities in a joint announcement, warning that beneath the town's Garrison Law the army shouldn't intervene in local affairs unless it had been requested by the authorities to assist with disaster relief or public order, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported.
The Asian financial hub was spanned by months of presentations, together with lots of people mad at perceived Communist Party meddling in the former British colony, which has been ensured its freedoms as it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Clashes between protesters and authorities have become increasingly more violent in the Chinese-ruled town, which is interfering with its greatest political crisis in years.
The presentations pose the gravest popular question to Chinese President Xi Jinping because he came to power in 2012.
Xi Jinping has stated that he's convinced the Hong Kong authorities can solve the crisis. Until Saturday, Chinese troops at town had stayed inside their foundation throughout the protests.
Chinese state media broadcast remarks made on Thursday by President Xi Jinping, where he uttered the unrest and said,"preventing violence and controlling chaos whilst restoring order is now Hong Kong's most pressing task".
Efforts on Saturday to clear blocked streets followed a number of the worst violence seen that this season following a police operation against protesters in the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Tuesday.
The police have since mostly stayed away from five college campuses which was barricaded by tens of thousands of students and activists stockpiling makeshift weapons.
Pro-China protests have attracted considerably smaller amounts than those mad at Beijing.
By late afternoon on Saturday, PLA soldiers had left the roads outside Baptist University with their barracks at Kowloon Tong.
Chinese troops have emerged on Hong Kong's roads only once because the 1997 handover, to help clean up following a typhoon at 2018. It wasn't clear exactly how many were included in Saturday's surgeries.
The PLA garrison at Hong Kong reported that when citizens began cleanup, a few troops"helped clean the street in the front of this garrison gate".
Back in August, Beijing transferred tens of thousands of troops throughout the border into Hong Kong in the state news agency Xinhua called a regular rotation.