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Mass protests as Hong Kong marks 15 years under China

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Amolthebest

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PLA gaining trust in HK


Shortly after being stationed in Hong Kong, Brigadier Zhang Jie said he was asked by a city official why were his soldiers “so invisible”.
PLA gaining trust in HK


Soldiers of People’s liberation Army pose for photograghs at teh Stanley barracks in Hong Kong earlier this month. Edmong Tang/China Daily

The People’s Liberation Army troops had been at the garrison for a month, following the return of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, and many residents expected them to have a high-profile presence.

“I told the official that the reason we were invisible was because we only leave the base when necessary, to not disturb residents,” Zhang said ahead of the 15th anniversary of the handover.

This is a policy that stayed unchanged for 15 years.

The garrison, which has roughly 8,000 troops spread over battalions of infantry, engineers, airborne staff and navy personnel, is housed in several bases across the special administrative region.

Due to some differences between the mainland and Hong Kong, which the United Kingdom controlled for more than a century, and the “one country, two systems” policy, PLA troops stationed adhere to stricter rules than those in other parts of China.

“We have to be committed to strict discipline to gain the trust of Hong Kong citizens,” said Zhang, who heads the garrison’s infantry division.

Liang Yuejia, deputy director of the garrison’s political department, explained that there was a lot of suspicion among residents at first that soldiers would get involved in local affairs, such as reacting to street protests.

“But we didn’t. Unless the protesters illegally entered our barracks or threatened our lives, we did not resort to contacting the police,” he said, adding that they respected such activities according to local regulations.

Even when anti-communist literature was thrown over the walls or staff received harassing calls from political groups, officials said they did not react.

That policy of noninterference has over the years helped the garrison gain a good image among residents.

A poll of 1,006 people by the University of Hong Kong last year found that only about 2 percent of those polled had a negative opinion about the garrison.

“Developing a good relationship with citizens has been the key,” said Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo, commander of the garrison. “I think that mission has been accomplished.”

Major Wu Qiong, a battalion commander with the garrison’s communication station, added: “Before 2000, Hong Kong citizens usually kept their distance. But after years of interaction, many now often say hello. I guess that’s because they are aware of our decent style of working and strict discipline.”

Increasing openness

Compared with the “invisibility” of the early years, the garrison has greatly increased its openness to the outside world in recent years.

Besides regular training and exercises for army personnel, officials have also been promoting links between Hong Kong and the mainland through various activities, said Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo.

The troops have actively participated in public activities, such as planting more than 50,000 trees, donating 2.5 million milliliters of blood and helping more than 2,600 elderly people and children in care homes.

The garrison has also opened its barracks 23 times to visitors, receiving around 469,000 local people, and held summer camps for children.

The last open day, on May 1, attracted 37,000 visitors, far more than the 28,000 expected and extra free admission tickets had to be distributed. Some people waited in line overnight to get a ticket.

During the open days, guests can view the military facilities and watch soldiers perform combat skills and motorcycling stunts, including drills by the first female special forces of the PLA army.

“One of the reasons why we are gaining increasing recognition in Hong Kong is that the openness of the barracks provides local people with an opportunity to know more about us, as well as a platform for us to serve them,” said Lieutenant General Wang Zengbo, political commissar of the garrison.

The activities organized by the garrison also present the PLA, the Communist Party of China and the mainland to Hong Kong residents in a proper way, Wang said. “Their national identity and patriotism have greatly increased,” he said.

The garrison has organized seven military summer camps for around 1,200 local teenagers, six exchange activities with 1,600 students from 12 local universities and a military camp for college students. The troops also visited the University of Hong Kong for the first time in 2011 and talked with students.

A total of 215 teenagers participated in the military summer camp in 2011, and the number is expected to reach 260 this year.

“Despite the increase, every school can only send one student, while dozens of others actually want to come, so we’ll continue enlarging the camp’s scale in future,” said Wang.

Tung Chee-hwa, former chief executive of Hong Kong, said the camps influence many families and hundreds of people even though there are only about 200 participants every year, and they also would influence the participants’ whole life even they only last for 15 days.

In 2010, Hong Kong saw an upsurge of young people wanting to enlist in the military. Most of the 4,000 local young people who signed up for enlisting participated in the garrison’s exchange activities and military camps.

The summaries written by military camp participants revealed that the 15-day interaction with the garrison provided them with a chance to learn more about the troops, socialism, the Communist Party of China, as well as the strength of the PLA and China, Wang said.

Boosting defenses

With the garrison enjoying a good image in Hong Kong, Zhang Shibo said the focus has shifted from public relations to bolstering military defense.

The mission of the garrison is mainly to exercise China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, safeguard social stability and provide disaster relief and defense campaigns. However, military training is also a priority.

“Since 2007, we have invested millions to upgrade our army’s equipment, navy and air force,” said the garrison’s commander.

Based on Hong Kong’s strategic features, the PLA garrison added a special forces unit, an armored battalion and a chemical defense battalion. It has also been equipped with reconnaissance planes, armed helicopters and air defense missiles.

Soldiers receive regular training. More than 20 drills were held in Hong Kong over the past 15 years.

“We aim to test our basic military strength, commanding and organizing capabilities through joint drills,” Zhang Shibo said.

The infantry brigade, the garrison’s pillar force, has ranked at the top for three years in the military competitions in the adjacent PLA Guangzhou Military Area Command, which has the administrative control of the garrison.

Speaking of the possible challenges the garrison faces, Brigadier Zhang Jie said the garrison “needs to be prepared to tackle possible regional conflicts at all times”.

Hong Kong 15th aniversary on return to China « Rightways's Blog
Kya Imran Bhai. You too! :cheesy:
 

Shardul.....the lion

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Hu Jintao's speech interrupted by pro-democracy protester as thousands demonstrate to mark 15 years of Chinese rule

A Hong Kong protester holds a sign mocking Leung Chun-ying as thousands took to the streets, some beating drums and waving British flags. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters
A pro-democracy protester interrupted a speech by the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, at the swearing in of Hong Kong's new leader, while thousands of residents marched to demonstrate against Chinese rule on the 15th anniversary of its return to Beijing's control.

The outpouring of discontent underscored rising tensions between the communist mainland and the city of 7 million, which was returned to China in 1997 after more than a century of British rule.

While much of the discontent revolves around growing economic inequality and stunted democratic development, residents are also upset over what they see as arrogant Chinese behaviour as wealthy mainlanders take over retail outlets during lavish shopping trips, for example, or even the choice of language during Sunday's swearing-in ceremony – Beijing-accented Mandarin instead of the Cantonese dialect spoken locally.

Self-made millionaire Leung Chun-ying, 57, became Hong Kong's third chief executive at Sunday's ceremony, after Donald Tsang and Tung Chee-hwa. He has promised to address Hong Kong residents' economic needs, including concern over skyrocketing housing prices, which many blame on buyers from the mainland.

A demonstrator who tried to interrupt Hu as he began his address was bundled away by security officials. The man, one of the guests invited to the inauguration, waved a flag and shouted slogans calling for China's leaders to condemn the brutal crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 4 June 1989. He also called for an end to one-party rule in China. Hu took no notice and continued with his speech, but the incident marred what was supposed to be a carefully orchestrated visit emphasising strengthened ties between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Leung, a police officer's son, replaces career bureaucrat Tsang, who took office in 2005 and is barred from another term.

Leung was chosen as chief executive in March, winning 689 votes from a 1,200-seat committee of business elites who mostly voted according to Beijing's wishes. Hong Kong's 3.4 million registered voters, who can vote for neighbourhood councillors and half of all lawmakers, had no say.

In mid-afternoon, tens of thousands of protesters began marching toward the newly built government headquarters complex on Hong Kong Island in sweltering heat, beating drums and waving British colonial flags.

The protesters jammed the route of the march, a series of thoroughfares bordered by high-rise apartments and office buildings. There was occasional tension between demonstrators and the thousands of police deployed to maintain order, but the event passed off largely peacefully.

In his speech, Hu said Hong Kong residents had more democratic rights and freedoms than ever before, a reminder that China has mostly kept the promise it made when it regained the territory from Britain to keep Hong Kong's relatively open political system in place for 50 years.

But that did little to assuage the feelings of the protesters, who see China's Communist party rule as strongly at odds with the values that many inherited from a British-influenced education, and the continuing spread of democracy to Asian neighbours such as South Korea and Chinese-speaking Taiwan.

"China's way of thinking is totally different from ours," said builder Bono Lau, 46. "Tung Chee-hwa talked about one country, two systems but there's no more of that nowadays."

Beijing has pledged that Hong Kong can elect its own leader in 2017 and all legislators by 2020 at the earliest, but no roadmap has been laid out.

Calls for democracy have been catalysed by the stunted election that catapulted Leung to power and by corruption scandals surrounding his predecessor. Ordinary Hong Kong people fear the political system in place since 1997 has resulted in the city's billionaires having too much influence over senior government officials. Government data show that income inequality has risen to its highest in four decades.

Leung himself was implicated in an embarrassing scandal just last week when it emerged he had made six illegal additions to his mansion in an exclusive neighbourhood on Hong Kong Island's Victoria Peak

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/01/chinese-president-heckled-hong-kong?newsfeed=true
 

Fanling Monk

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So u claim the reports by bbc are incorrect or some kind of propaganda .
The ground reality is hong kong wants to be a free democratic land . Cant u see it in the eyes of those thousand people :rolleyes:

I did not claim anything. I just asked you not to speak for us. LOL ground reality? As you were there watching us suffering because the lack of democracy. Grow up little boy! India is not the only 'democracy' in the world.

BTW if India is the representation of 'democracy' who wants to have one.
 

Imran Khan

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Students attend a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the territory's handover to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong


Resident carrying Hong Kong and Chinese flags attends a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the territory's handover to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong



Chief Executive Leung is greeted by Chinese President Hu during inaguration in Hong Kong


Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung and his wife Regina wave during flag-raising ceremony to mark 15th anniversary of territory's handover to China, in Hong Kong
 
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I did not claim anything. I just asked you not to speak for us. LOL ground reality? As you were there watching us suffering because the lack of democracy. Grow up little boy! India is not the only 'democracy' in the world.

BTW if India is the representation of 'democracy' who wants to have one.
I did ask u a question before.. But enlighten me...
 

SomeGuy

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I find it funny that some Hong Kong people are protesting about the right to elect their leader, but they seem to forget that the British didn't afford them this right either - colonial governers were appointed by the queen/prime minister.
 

Diamond_Gold

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We are not happy? How do you know? By one picture in a small rally?

Check the pictures Mr. Imran Khan posted. Our future is already here so there is no need to speak for us.
he meant bright future = "Shiny" like india's one!

After the on coming EURO crisis, I bet their country is going too be even more "Shiny" than now! LOLOL.
 
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