The head of the Hong Kong stock exchange has cautioned against Chinese military intervention in Hong Kong, saying it is not up to the People’s Liberation Army to do the police’s job. Addressing a group of business and professional executives on Thursday, HKEX chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia said the PLA was “supposed to be here to ... point [at] outside enemies. It’s not supposed to help Hong Kong to deal with our own problems.” Li’s comments come amid concerns that PLA troops could be mobilised to help maintain order in the city, after weeks of protests. He told a gathering organised by the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute that the principle of “one country, two systems” – under which the city retains its own political, legal, economic and financial systems – should be safeguarded and the PLA’s purpose was to protect national sovereignty. “The PLA is in Hong Kong in the garrison to protect national sovereignty, to protect national territorial integrity, integration and integrity of the People’s Republic of China,” Li said. He said police should be allowed to do their job properly. “The only time that we can have that conversation [about deploying the PLA] is because our police force cannot deal with these problems any more. You may not like the police but it doesn’t really matter. You need them to do the job,” Li said. Chinese military ‘can be mobilised to frontline of Hong Kong protests’ “If somebody does something wrong, deal with it. But otherwise, we have to let them do their jobs.” He said that if there came a time when the police could not do their job, “we are all going to be in a land that nobody wanted”. “I don’t think that’s the place any Hong Kong people wanted. I don’t think that’s a place where the central government wanted us to be linked,” Li said. Concerns over whether troops from the PLA garrison in Hong Kong could be deployed have heightened since Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Wednesday that the Chinese military was following the developments in Hong Kong closely, especially the vandalism against the central government’s liaison office on Sunday. Wu also referred to the Garrison Law, which allows the PLA to help the city maintain law and order at the request of Hong Kong’s government. The remarks raised fears that the military had sent a warning, but a Hong Kong government spokesman said the city was fully capable of keeping public order and there was no need to ask for help. “There is no need to ask for assistance from the [Hong Kong PLA] garrison,” the spokesman said. Will China send in the troops to stamp out protests in Hong Kong? In Washington, US Representative James McGovern and Senator Marco Rubio called on the White House to “condemn the threat to deploy the PLA in Hong Kong”. Rubio and McGovern said the “threats of intervention by the People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong are unacceptable and needlessly escalate tensions”. “The Trump administration should strongly and publicly condemn any threats to Hong Kong citizens and US residents of Hong Kong. We also ask the Hong Kong government to condemn the Chinese government’s threats as unwelcome interference in Hong Kong’s affairs,” they said. Earlier, Rubio also called for condemnation of a violent attack on Sunday in Yuen Long, a town in Hong Kong’s New Territories, where men in white shirts and armed with sticks and metal rods beat up commuters indiscriminately. “People that put in power thugs and criminals and gangsters to go after innocent people and beat them the way they did, we should be condemning it, but the whole world should be condemning it. They can now see the true nature of that government of that Communist Party,” he said. Beijing hit back at the comments, with the Chinese foreign ministry’s commissioner’s office in Hong Kong saying Rubio had damaged ties between Hong Kong and mainland China and spread “lies” about Hong Kong. “Rubio has attacked China with malicious intent for a long time,” the office said. “He has made groundless lies for political gain. And he has stirred up trouble in the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland, with ulterior motives.” The office also accused some US politicians of double standards, saying they condemned violence in the United States while describing those who attacked Hong Kong police and government buildings as “freedom fighters”. Analysts said any intervention by the Chinese military would be a last resort because of the huge political cost and great complexities involved. It would also mean the end of the one country, two systems formula, they said. Chinese military can be deployed at Hong Kong’s request to contain protests, Beijing says But, Leung Chun-ying, the city’s former chief executive, said on his Facebook page that PLA intervention would not mean “the death of one country, two systems” because the Basic Law stipulated that PLA troop deployment was permissible. Leung said he hoped the troops would not be mobilised, but that violence should be stopped. “I hope that the articles in the Basic Law that concern PLA troops carrying out duties will not be executed, and that Hong Kong police can effectively control the situation. But the destructive forces, both in front and behind the scenes, should immediately stop attacking the police and all violent acts,” he said.