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Hong Kong youth

Hongkongers should be allowed to serve in People’s Liberation Army voluntarily, pro-Beijing party survey finds

Proposal would help young people improve sense of national identity, DAB says, citing opinion poll

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 2:54pm

The city’s largest pro-Beijing political party on Wednesday proposed Hongkongers be allowed to serve voluntarily in the Chinese army, as a survey revealed more than half would be willing to do so.

From June 27 to July 3, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong did phone interviews with 713 residents, aged 12 or above, selected via random sampling.

Among respondents aged 12 to 39, who accounted for 38 per cent of those polled, 48 per cent said they agreed Hong Kong people should be allowed to take up military service on a voluntary basis.

The DAB, which has 13 lawmakers and is the most influential party in Hong Kong’s 68-member legislature, also said more activities should be organised by local and mainland Chinese authorities to help locals better understand China – its national defence and foreign affairs in particular.

“Many young people hope voluntary military service can become possible. We hope the government can think about it,” DAB vice-chairman Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, a lawmaker, said.

Cheung said he believed Hong Kong people’s sense of national identity would improve if they were allowed to serve or take part in activities organised by the Chinese army’s local garrison.

Hongkongers currently do not have to serve in the People’s Liberation Army, and there is no policy in place for them to take up military service voluntarily.

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Under Article 14 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, the central government is responsible for the defence of Hong Kong. The local garrison shall not interfere in the city’s local affairs.

Frankie Ngan Man-yu, chairman of Young DAB, the party’s youth branch, said Article 14 did not mean the city’s government could not discuss the possibility of voluntary military service with Beijing.

“There is no reason not to allow people to do something voluntarily … As long as young people have such an idea, we should give them the opportunity,” Ngan said.

In the poll, respondents were also asked whether more activities should be organised to foster interaction between Hongkongers and the PLA’s local garrison. About 73 per cent said yes, while 20 per cent said no.

The local garrison has held open days for the public to visit their barracks several times a year, but the party’s district councillors said there were often not enough tickets to accommodate all the interested residents.

Separately, 70 per cent of those polled said that more activities should be organised to help people understand China’s national defence and foreign policies, while 22 per cent said there was no need to do so.