Chinese soldiers stationed in Hong Kong joined pro-China Hong Kong residents on Saturday to help clean up bricks and rubble that was blocking the city's streets, Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK reported.
Hong Kong's government said Saturday that it "has not requested the (PLA) Garrison's assistance." Instead, Chinese soldiers' efforts to clear road blocks outside their barracks in Kowloon Tong was "purely a voluntary community activity initiated by themselves," the Hong Kong SAR government said in a statement to CNN.
CNN made several attempts to contact the PLA in Hong Kong, without success.
PLA's presence criticized
The presence of the PLA on Hong Kong's streets prompted criticism from five legislators, who said that if the city's leaders requested assistance from the Chinese Army, they were continuing "to indulge in escapism, evade political settlement of political issues, and further weaken one country, two systems."
Article 9 of Hong Kong's Garrison Law states that China's military shall not interfere in the local affairs of Hong Kong, while article 11 stipulates that the garrison shall notify the local government in advance of any military activities such as training exercises or maneuvers involving the public interest of Hong Kong.
However, article 14 of Hong Kong's Basic Law says that, when necessary, Hong Kong's government may ask the garrison to assist in "maintenance of public security and disaster relief."
"The (Hong Kong) SAR Government and the People's Liberation Army stationed in Hong Kong have repeatedly cooperated to create excuses," the lawmakers said in a statement Saturday. "They ignore the restrictions imposed by the Basic Law and the Garrison Law on the PLA's troops stationed in Hong Kong.
"They want the Hong Kong people to get used to the PLA's public activities in Hong Kong and gradually rationalize the PLA's operations in Hong Kong under boiling frog effect."
Increasing levels of violence
This week has seen a renewed spate of violent unrest following the death of a 22-year-old student who fell near the scene of demonstrations on November 8. Protesters have clashed with riot police at multiple locations, paralyzing much of the territory and forcing citywide school cancellations.
After more than five months of political unrest, traffic disruptions and increasing levels of violence, universities across Hong Kong have emerged as the latest battleground.
On Friday night, protesters suddenly evacuated CUHK, bringing the four-day occupation to an end. Several universities have announced that they will cancel classes in the wake of last week's unrest.