Chinese military features Hong Kong in videos ‘to lure young recruits’

Display of armed strength may also be aimed at separatists in the city and Taiwan, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 11:57pm

The PLA’s Hong Kong garrison has featured in military videos released in an apparent attempt to attract new recruits.

The People’s Liberation Army also touted its advanced training and weapons in the two clips posted on the website of its television channel on Tuesday and Thursday.

But analysts said the show of military strength could also be a shot at Hong Kong and Taiwanese independence.

One of the videos showed live-fire drills in Hong Kong and on the mainland of advanced weapons that President Xi Jinping reviewed in a military parade in the city on June 30.

The other video showed a regular sea and air patrol in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Military analysts said the footage of Hong Kong’s well-equipped barracks and harbour views, along with the clips’ conversational titles were aimed at potential young recruits on the mainland.

Macau-based military commentator Antony Wong Dong said: “Hong Kong is always the best selling point to attract young recruits.”

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

“The popularity of the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison has grown [on the mainland] since the Liaoning [aircraft carrier] was opened to the public for the first time during a visit to Hong Kong [in July],” Wong said.

Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said Hong Kong’s status as an international city and its well-equipped garrison also helped promote the PLA’s public image and the country’s defence industry abroad.

“Many domestic military industrial enterprises want troops from the Hong Kong garrison to showcase their new products,” he said.

“Showing advanced weapon systems can [also] remind Hong Kong and Taiwanese separatists that independence is no way to go.”

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

Among the weapons on show were Type 99A battle tanks, the PHL-03 multiple launch rocket system, PLZ-05 self-propelled howitzers, and WZ-19 reconnaissance and attack helicopters. A notable absence was the HQ-6 mobile air defence system, which can destroy cruise missiles and drones, and is part of an air defence network for southern China.

But Zhou said the PHL-03 system, with a range more than 100km, was enough to counter separatist threats.

Competition for places in the Hong Kong garrison is fierce, even though recruits must meet higher education, political and physical requirements than applicants for mainland bases.

Soldiers stationed in Hong Kong must also abide by many stricter social rules and are forbidden from dating local residents, according to troops from the garrison.