Let Hongkongers serve in China’s People’s Liberation Army, says top military official

Lack of military training hampers young people’s physical fitness, will power, resistance to stress and adaptability, says Senior Colonel Wang Xinjian

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2015, 10:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 September, 2015, 10:40pm

Hongkongers should be allowed to serve in China’s People’s Liberation Army, according to a mainland-based think tank member, who says doing so could foster their identification with the country.

Senior Colonel Wang Xinjian, a member of a committee on national security under the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, who joined in the drafting of the garrison law of Hong Kong and Macau, raised the point in an interview with state-backed newspaper Global Times.

He added that universities and secondary schools in the city could open classes on national defence and military training to cultivate a love for the military and the concept of national defence.

Summer military camps and training provided by the Scout Association could also help, he said.

Wang was apparently responding to recent calls from the pro-establishment camp that young people in Hong Kong should be allowed to join the PLA voluntarily.

Under the mainland’s military service law, Chinese male citizens can enlist in the PLA and are obliged to perform military service when required. The law is not applied in Hong Kong.

Young people in Hong Kong had been denied the chance to receive military training as they grew up, which hampered their physical fitness, will power, resistance to stress and adaptability, Wang said.

But he added that whether young Hongkongers could adapt to the political and disciplinary restraints and tough training in the PLA was an issue that needed to be studied.

He said the army could help develop young people’s civic awareness, helping them to change from regional residents to national citizens.

On the question of joining the mainland’s civil service, Wang said it would be undesirable if Hongkongers were in the long-term not given a chance to work for the mainland government, fearing it would breed a sense of alienation, parochialism, or even separatism.

The establishment of the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association – a military-style youth group founded in January – led to a heated debate over enlistment. But Wang said it was implied in the Basic Law that Hongkongers should shoulder military service.

He said military service obligations should not be considered “forced or compulsory labour”, which is prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.