SHENZHEN: A total of 12,000 Chinese police officers took part in an anti-riot training drill on Tuesday (Aug 6) in Shenzhen amid increasingly violent protests and clashes in neighbouring Hong Kong.
The drill aimed to maintain social stability, encourage police morale and prepare the forces ahead of China's 70th founding anniversary, said Shenzhen police in a statement to Global Times.
A video on the tabloid's official Twitter page showed police officers in helmets and shields clashing with people in black shirts and yellow construction hats - similar to the unofficial uniform of protesters in Hong Kong.
Global Times also stated that the drill "attracted unusual attention as it features scenarios that resemble the ongoing riots in Hong Kong".
Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has faced months of sometimes violent protests that began with opposition to a now-suspended extradition law and which have evolved into a direct challenge to the government of embattled leader Carrie Lam.
The drill, which was broadcast live on several online platforms, also show police firing teargas at violent protesters wielding long sticks. Police dogs with their handlers were on the scene as well.
Last week, China's military also released a propaganda video showing a drill of armed troops quelling a protest in Hong Kong.
The video, posted by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong, has a caption in which the military declares it has the "confidence" and "capabilities" to maintain security in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city.
China's government on Tuesday issued its sharpest rebuke yet of the protesters, warning them not to "play with fire", and called on Hong Kong citizens to protect their homeland.
At a press briefing in Beijing, Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the "radical protests ... have severely impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss".
Yang said the government still "firmly supports" both the Hong Kong Police Force - who have been criticised for their handling of the protests - and Ms Lam.
"We would like to make it clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them: Those who play with fire will perish by it," Yang said.
"Don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness ... Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government," he said.
His comments came after Monday's protest, where Hong Kong police arrested nearly 150 people and about 800 tear gas rounds were fired during running battles with protesters.
Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal with Britain, Hong Kong has rights and liberties unseen on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech.