Liaoning aircraft carrier

Chinese military personnel take to Hong Kong-style shopping, home for the aged

One officer says he is limited to spending 5,000 yuan during five-day port call, while soldiers and sailors put on song and dance routine for elderly residents in home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 10:34pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 11:00pm

Naval officers from the country’s first operational aircraft carrier had a close look at Hong Kong and engaged in some shopping on Monday before wrapping up their five-day port call.

Some paid a visit to a home for the elderly in Kowloon and staged a mini-military performance for residents.

Liaoning: everything you need to know about China’s first aircraft carrier

The 60,900-tonne Liaoning arrived in the city on Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. More than 50,000 people have visited the carrier and the three warships in its battle group, according the People’s Liberation Army.

About 2,000 tickets were given to Hong Kong permanent residents to visit the Liaoning. Groups of mainland people were also able to go on board.

A group of about 20 sailors from the Liaoning and 40 soldiers from the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison visited the home for the aged.

Watch: PLA officers visit home for elderly

The uniformed soldiers impressed an audience of about 60 elderly people – some over 100 years old – with an honour guard rifle show and a performance of red songs.

“Long Life to Chairman Mao,” a male naval officer sang, while four female soldiers danced along.

A female officer sang Ying Shan Hong, a song produced during the Cultural Revolution to reflect the popularity of the Communist Party.

How Chinese sailors on shore leave from Liaoning aircraft carrier have spent their time in Hong Kong

“I have never seen a Chinese soldier in my entire life. What should I call them if they talk to me? Would ‘Mr’ be appropriate or should I call them ‘comrade’,” said Leung Shuk, an 85-year-old woman.

The 90-minute visit also saw some personnel visit rooms for elderly people facing mobility problems. One of the carers provided translations.

“It was very kind of the officers to come this far to visit us. I have only seen them on TV. Their uniforms are beautiful, ” a 90-year-old woman surnamed Yung said, even though she did not know about the Liaoning.

Other personnel went on a short tour of the city, including the Causeway Bay shopping district.

Several groups shopped in pharmaceutical and retail stores. Some bought facial masks and skincare products, presumably for wives and girlfriends. Others bought health products for babies and wandered inside watch and jewellery shops.

Inside the Liaoning, the warship with 10 cafeterias, a TV station and even a band

One officer who refused to be named said he hoped to buy watches and electronic devices. He noted that the PLA had imposed a spending limit of 5,000 yuan (HK$5,738) per person.

Another officer, who was in Hong Kong for the first time, was fascinated by the prosperity of the city. “You can also see high rises on the mainland, but this is on a different level,” he said.

Additional reporting by Tracy Zhang