Cut off from Pokemon Go, some 500 Hong Kong teenagers learned ways of People’s Liberation Army

Attendees deny brainwashing at military-run summer camp instilling sense of disciplined life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 9:54pm

While many Hongkongers were completely swept away by the hit mobile game Pokemon Go last week, a group of about 500 ­students remained unaware of its existence.

The students, ranging from 15 to 18 years old, were kept ­disconnected from the outside world without their mobile phones for 15 days at the People’s Liberation Army summer camp this year.

Adhering to fixed schedules, the students started their day at 6am with morning exercises, ­followed by sessions of physical training, basic military study and outdoor survival skills.

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Participant Hugo Chan ­Chin-fung said it was the first time he lived by such a strict timetable.

“I learned that I couldn’t just laze around like I did at home,” the 16-year-old told reporters at the camp’s graduation ceremony yesterday, adding he had to get used to doing his own laundry and washing dishes.

I learned that I couldn’t just laze around like I did at home
Hugo Chan, camp attendee

The camp, held annually at San Wai Barracks near Fanling since 2004, received about twice as many attendees compared with last year.

Chief Executive Leung ­Chun-ying was present at the graduation ceremony along with other senior government officials including Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Zhang Xiaoming, the director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

A group of pre-selected ­students was arranged to speak to the media after the ceremony.

“I don’t believe I was ­brainwashed,” Isabella Fung Sum-yat said.

“This camp is not about ­politics, it’s about experiencing what it’s like in the military and learning how to live a disciplined life.”

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She added they were allowed to watch movies and that their team leaders were down-to-earth during their free time.

One of the movies Fung ­mentioned was Wolf Warrior, an action film produced in the ­mainland about a special forces agent who defends himself against foreign assassins.

Chan said he would consider joining the military if he was ­unable to land a place in ­university.

He invoked a saying to ­describe his plan. “Join the ­military and you regret it for two years,” he said. “Don’t join the military and you spend your whole life ­regretting it.”