China has sent its soldiers onto the streets of Hong Kong to clean up the debris after more anti-government protests.
A city spokesman said it was a “voluntary community activity” by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The spokesman said the city government did not request assistance from the PLA, which has stayed confined to its garrison during six months of protests.
Although the protests have shrunk in size they’ve grown increasingly violent and often caused chaos.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Beijing’s supporters came out to support the soldiers, who are rarely seen on the streets.
They’re only supposed to deploy if the Hong Kong government gives its permission.
The protests were sparked by the government’s decision to submit legislation that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland.
Activists saw that as an erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” formula which was implemented in 1997, when Britain returned the territory to China.
The bill has been withdrawn, but the protests have expanded into a wider resistance movement. Activist say they’re against as the increasing influence of Communist China in the city.
Also on Saturday rebellious students and anti-government protesters abandoned their occupation of nearly all of Hong Kong’s universities.
It came after a near week-long siege by police, but at least one major campus remained under control of demonstrators.