HK police will stick with traditional British foot drills, chief says, although PLA is training officers on Chinese-style marching for handover events next year

26-Feb-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 7:31 AM Print This Post

Traditional British foot drills will remain the standard style for Hong Kong’s 33,000-strong police force, according to its chief, although the People’s Liberation Army has for the first time been teaching officers Chinese-style marching for some ceremonies next year.

Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung’s comments on Tuesday came after a government source told the Post the skills acquired from the unprecedented training sessions would be deployed at the handover parade on July 1, 2022 for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the city’s return from British rule for the first time.

The training started on Monday with pictures emerging of PLA soldiers in olive green uniforms giving instructions at Hong Kong Police College’s parade ground in Wong Chuk Hang on the Chinese military’s “goose-stepping” style of ceremonial marching.

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A government source said about 10 soldiers from the PLA’s Hong Kong Garrison Honour Guard Battalion were invited to provide two weeks of training to selected officers, with members of other disciplined services, such as the customs and immigration departments, also joining the lessons.

“The training is to beef up officers’ knowledge and skills so that police could for the first time perform Chinese-style marching parade in next year’s 25th handover anniversary celebrations,” the insider said. “Police have no plan to switch from our British marching style at the moment.”

Currently, each police officer must undergo up to 36 weeks of college training with repeated foot drills on the parade ground to build up a sense of consciousness, self-discipline and team spirit.

Tang said the force had always exchanged marching knowledge with counterparts from different places, and that was also the intention behind the invitation to the PLA.

“At the moment we do not have plans to change our marching style. We often review the style with the times,” Tang said, after receiving a Covid-19 jab together with 19 of his colleagues.

When asked if all police officers would need to learn the Chinese foot drills, the chief said they should receive “appropriate marching training when necessary”.

In 2016, four instructors from the British Army flew to Hong Kong to give a three-week training session to 50 police officers and seven other disciplinary officers at the police college.

The two-week marching skills programme launched this week is the first the PLA has given to Hong Kong police.

The Chinese military is known for its ceremonial “goose step”, in which troops keep their legs rigidly straight when lifting them off the ground, while their arms swing at a 90-degree angle in front of their chests.

Hong Kong police confirmed the PLA visit in a statement on Monday, saying the soldiers had been invited to broaden the knowledge, skill and horizons of marching instructors from different disciplinary forces.

The Security Bureau said the disciplined services would formulate their marching style and training in accordance with the actual situation.

The Correctional Services Department said it had earlier invited PLA soldiers to give marching training and that it would infuse the Chinese style into its routine training. The Customs and Excise Department is taking a similar approach.

In May 2019, some of Hong Kong’s uniformed cadet groups switched from their traditional British drills to Chinese military marches at a flag-raising ceremony to mark the centenary of the May Fourth Movement.

At least four of the 16 cadet groups at the Golden Bauhinia Square event broke with tradition and marched in the familiar Chinese manner, including goose stepping. The groups said it was the first time they had switched from the British marching style since the ceremony started in 2006.

The change came after one of the main organisers, the pro-Beijing Committee of Youth Activities, sent a notice in March suggesting the cadet groups use the Chinese drills to “show respect to China”.


Category: Hong Kong

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