The reality is the PLA does not want Hong Kong residents serving in its ranks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am


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I refer to the report ('Army studying legal issues for locals', June 16).

I would think as a legislator, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee would be more in tune with reality. The People's Liberation Army is obviously merely paying lip service to a remark that was made by the chief of the general staff recently, regarding the future possibility of Hong Kong residents in the PLA. True, the military service law cannot be applied in Hong Kong and that is a big hurdle to overcome, but there are much deeper reasons that are preventing this.

It should be clear that the issue under the current circumstances has no clear resolution.

Looking at a soldier's life could help to explain why this will remain an impossibility. Enlisted servicemen in the PLA are for the most part sequestered from society.

Constitutionally, their allegiance is to the Communist Party and not the state, and the authorities do not want their minds poisoned by anything that would question this role, especially when they are under orders.

PLA-enlisted servicemen are normally not allowed to log onto the mainland's censored internet and are instead only allowed to log onto a PLA intranet that contains no unapproved information except materials related to their duties, PLA and national news, and songs and games for entertainment.

Much of their time is spent studying non-military subjects like socialist theories, Marxist-Leninist theories and the writings of former leaders. Political indoctrination has always been a part of PLA service. Furthermore, a soldier from Hong Kong would have to live and work with soldiers who are mostly rural residents, whose culture and attitudes are vastly different from those in this city. I wonder how Mrs Ip believes that young Hongkongers, coming from a society where rule of law, freedom of speech and the press, and questioning the government are the norm, will fit into this long-established mould?

Therefore, it is extremely unlikely we will ever see Hong Kong residents serve before 2047. It is no secret that mainland authorities have long distrusted the loyalty of Hong Kong compatriots and this situation emphasises that point, despite attempts to change it.

Nonetheless, the truth is that the PLA probably does not want Hong Kong residents because it sees no benefit from such a move. The risk of it going badly would not be very difficult to imagine and may be just too much to overcome.

Dean Andrews, Mid-Levels