As the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)’s return to the motherland approaches, officers at the Hong Kong Police College in Wong Chuk Hang are practicing the Chinese-style foot drills of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). People familiar with the matter believed that their smooth movements in a decisive manner fully underscored the spirit of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) in the new era.
A Global Times reporter visited the college on Tuesday, and it was quiet and everything was in order. The Police College was established in January 2006, replacing what was previously known as the Training Wing, to develop police training in a strategic manner and establish itself as a center of excellence in police training.
“Turn right! And march forward!” a police officer shouted out clearly “one, two and one” as a Global Times reporter met a team of female students when entering the college. Those students and all of the officers perform the PLA-style foot drills in their daily training. A police officer told the Global Times that such an arrangement helps enhance the training results.
“Salute the national flag!” as a command was given in Putonghua, and students who were training in the flag-raising ceremony waved the Chinese national flag. With the national anthem sounding, they stood upright and showed that they understood and were familiar with every step of the training process. Although they appeared to perform perfectly, they practiced over and over again.
From July 1, the HKPF will officially abandon British-style foot drills and perform Chinese-style foot drills of the PLA. In the eyes of the HKPF officers, fully adopting the PLA-style foot drills is a symbolic change in ideology and a removal of colonial characteristics, which has symbolic meaning for the country and for the HKSAR.
“Every one of us feels proud of adopting the Chinese-style foot drills,” a student surnamed Chen who guards the flag told the Global Times on Tuesday. The Chinese-style foot drills represent a sense of belonging and national feelings for the motherland, he said. The student also noted that he decided to join the HKPF as he wanted to do something meaningful.
The HKPF is widely considered as the pillar force in stabilizing the social order. Especially during the social turmoil in 2019 triggered by the anti-extradition movement, police officers worked day and night at the frontlines in confronting the violence and rampages in what is seen as the most restrained manner.
“I know working as police officer is hard and challenging, but I think I’m capable and have ambition to contribute to society,” the student said.
A person familiar with Chinese-style foot drills told the Global Times on Tuesday that the students’ movements and formation changes were completed in one step and the pace was very smooth. In particular, the precise and powerful marksmanship reflects the spirit of the HKPF in the new era.
Such good results came from the rigorous pursuit of details in daily training. Each student needs to conduct hundreds of days of training, starting with zero knowledge, to grasp different movements and the essentials of the Chinese-style foot drills.
More than 23 years after Hong Kong returned to the motherland, which put an end to its colonial past, the Hong Kong Police College held training in Chinese-style foot drills, taught by members of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison for the first time, in February 2021, after the HKPF invited the PLA Hong Kong Garrison Honor Guard Battalion.
Since then, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison has organized foot drill training sessions for nearly 1,000 personnel in five disciplinary units in Hong Kong, according to media reports.
On July 1, 2021, the HKSAR government held a flag-raising ceremony in which the flag guard squad entered using PLA-style foot drills for the first time. Starting from October 2021, all inspector and police officer cadets recruited by the HKPF have been trained in the PLA-style foot drills.
In early 2022, the HKSAR Immigration Department, Customs and Excise Department, Fire Services Department, and Correctional Services Department started to use the PLA formation, and on July 1, the HKPF will also officially abandon the British foot drills.
Hong Kong Junior Police Officers’ Association Chairman Lam Chi-wai told the Global Times on Tuesday that the Disciplined Services adopting the Chinese-style foot drills indeed removed the colonial characteristics of the city, and it will help unify Hong Kong society and fully underscore that Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China.
“Such a move also demonstrates our police officers are patriots and will enhance the public awareness of their identity as Chinese nationals and cultivate the sentiment of loving the country, loving Hong Kong,” Lam said.