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Chinese soldiers arrive with brooms to clean up the protest area at Hong Kong Baptist University in Hong Kong today. (Television Broadcasts Limited Hong Kong via AP)

In Hong Kong on Saturday, the scene above is an eerie reminder that mainland Chinese troops are looming nearby, ready to crush dissent or even take control.

Driving the news: Chinese army troops stationed in the semiautonomous territory emerged from nearby barracks to clear streets that protesters clogged with debris to slow down police, AP reports.

  • Dozens of People’s Liberation Army soldiers, dressed in black shorts and olive drab T-shirts, helped street cleaners pick up paving stones, rocks and other obstacles that had stopped traffic.

Why it matters: The soldiers, jogging in formation, carrying brooms and singing in cadence, were a rare sight on the streets of the city.

  • China maintains a garrison of about 10,000 soldiers, but they can’t operationally deploy without a request from the Hong Kong government.

The bottom line: Today, they're picking up bricks. Tomorrow, it could be people.

Chinese soldiers pick up bricks scattered by protesters at Hong Kong Baptist University. (Television Broadcasts Limited Hong Kong via AP)

Go deeper:

Go deeper

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.