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Wearing matching gray shirts and black shorts, People's Liberation Army soldiers cleaned the streets of Hong Kong on Nov. 16. (Nikkei Montage/Source photo by HKFP/AFP/Jiji and Getty Images)
China up close

Xi's elite soldiers 'clean the streets' of Hong Kong

Advertised as voluntary, the choreography was hard to miss

KATSUJI NAKAZAWA, Nikkei senior staff writer | China

TOKYO -- When the gates abruptly opened at the People's Liberation Army barracks in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, and about 100 shaven-headed and powerfully built men sprang out to clean the streets, a senior soldier made sure to tell the media there that it was a spontaneous act.

"We volunteered!" the plain-clothed unit spokesman, believed to be the commander, said. "Stopping violence and ending chaos is our responsibility." He was wearing a blue shirt.

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