Hong Kong — In August, Beijing moved thousands of troops across the border into this restive city. They came on trucks and in armoured cars, by bus and by ship.

The state news agency Xinhua described the operation as a routine “rotation” of the low-key force China has kept in Hong Kong since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997. No mention was made of the anti-government protests that have been shaking the metropolis since June...

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