Liaoning aircraft carrier

Hongkongers camp out for tickets to tour Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in first public viewing

A total of 2,000 free tickets were to be given out at the Central Barracks, Gun Club Hill Barracks and Shek Kong Barracks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 1:52am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 8:34am

Hongkongers flocked to the city’s military barracks late Sunday night to wait for free tickets allowing them to embark and tour China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, opening to the public for the first time since it was commissioned in 2012.

Military enthusiasts and local media lined up after the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong announced the ticketing arrangement for viewing the Liaoning and the three vessels in its fleet.

The fleet’s debut visit to the city runs from Friday to next Tuesday, with the public tours available on Saturday and Sunday only.

A total of 2,000 tickets were to be given out at the Central Barracks, Gun Club Hill Barracks and Shek Kong Barracks from 1 to 3pm Monday.

Any Hong Kong permanent identity card holder is eligible to obtain a ticket, and one more if they produce a copy of another person’s permanent identity card.

Another 1,600 tickets are slated to go to designated organisations.

Before midnight Monday, about 30 people were seen in a queue outside the Central Barracks in Admiralty.

At about the same time, dozens of enthusiasts formed a line outside the Gun Club Hill Barracks in Kowloon, with one pitching a tent in anticipation of the Monday afternoon distribution.

The garrison said security concerns on board the aircraft meant that children under 11, pregnant women and people with impaired mobility would not be eligible for tickets.

The tickets allow visitors to embark the Liaoning – named after the northeastern province in China – and view its fighter aircrafts, helicopters and other carrier-based weapons in designated areas during a visit limited to one hour either day.

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No cameras are allowed on board. No arrangements were being made for local media coverage on board the aircraft.

Along with the Liaoning, the other vessels in the fleet are the destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan and the frigate the Yantai. The three smaller vessels are open to visitors at the garrison’s Stonecutters Island naval base on Saturday and Sunday also.

People holding tickets for the base’s three open days from Saturday to Monday are permitted to tour the three vessels. Those tickets were already handed out on Sunday.

The announcement said the visit and public arrangements had been made after the fleet finished the first stage of a training exercise and joined the local PLA garrison in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.