The controversial construction of a People's Liberation Army port in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour has been approved, amid growing unease about China's role in the former British colony.
The port proposal was "unanimously" passed by Hong Kong's planning board, China's state broadcaster announced. The port was first discussed in 1994 as part of pre-handover talks between London and Beijing, the broadcaster CCTV claimed.
However, CCTV made no mention of widespread opposition to the plans, which have added to concerns about Beijing's vision for the former colony.
About 19,000 formal "comments" about the construction of the PLA port were submitted to city planners, of which just 20 were favourable, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper.
Last December, at least four pro-independence activists broke into the PLA's Central Barracks in Hong Kong, waving colonial-era flags and calling for the port project to be scrapped.
The PLA subsequently staged a major military drill in Victoria Harbour involving two frigates and helicopters. The move was widely interpreted as a reminder that Beijing held ultimate authority over Hong Kong.
Most critics of the 2970sq m installation, in public at least, frame their objections in terms of urban planning not politics. "It's not a question of ideology or whether or not we trust the PLA - anyway, we've all seen what happened on June 4, 1989 - this is an issue about our rights as citizens," Kenneth Chan, a legislator who is campaigning against the port, told the South China Morning Post last year, in a reference to the army's bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters. Telegraph Group Ltd