At least two uniformed youth groups have been invited by the China Liaison Office to participate in training sessions to learn the marching steps of the People’s Liberation Army.
It came after reports last month that the Liaison Office had asked groups to change their marching steps from British- to Chinese-style for the flag-raising ceremony on May 4. The Liaison Office denied making such a request, but said it can contact the PLA Hong Kong Garrison to provide training if groups wished to participate.
The Hong Kong Adventure Corps and the Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps both issued notices inviting their members to join foot drill training sessions on March 25, April 1, 2 and 8, between 8am and 5pm at the San Wai Barracks. The Adventure Corps offered 30 training spots and the Air Cadet Corps offered spots for eight adults and 25 cadets.
An “urgent” notice was issued by the Air Cadet Corps on March 17 notifying members that applications to participate must be submitted by Wednesday night. The training will be conducted by a PLA representative.
The notice said visits to the barracks and light weapons will be arranged during the training sessions.
It also said “military songs” will be taught during 15-minute pauses between 45-minute training periods.
The Adventure Corps said the Liaison Office coordinated with PLA troops in Hong Kong to arrange the four training sessions in order to provide free and diverse activities for members to learn different skills. Participants’ transport fees will be paid by the Corps.
It said it has no plan to change its traditional British style of marching at important ceremonies.
The Air Cadet Corps said it holds both traditional and special training sessions, as all local youth uniformed groups do. It said it holds an open attitude towards any local, mainland or overseas training, exchange or activities.
It said it will use its “traditional marching steps” at the ceremony on May 4.
An unnamed senior member of the Adventure Corps told Apple Daily that it was the first time for the group to be invited to this kind of training.
The member said he was concerned that there would be “invisible pressure” for the groups to send members to the training sessions.
“There has been a consensus that uniformed groups will continue using British marching steps on May 4. I believe there are political motivations behind such training at this moment,” he said.
A flag-raising ceremony has been held at Golden Bauhinia Square every year since 2006 to commemorate the May Fourth movement of 1919, an anti-imperialist and nationalist student movement in China that sparked a rethinking of traditional values.
The march and ceremony feature 14 uniformed youth groups in Hong Kong, with 13 of them adopting British-style marching steps, while the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association adopts the Chinese style.
Disciplinary forces in Hong Kong generally adopt British-style military steps, while the Chinese People’s Liberation Army uses the Soviet style, which includes a step called the goose-step.
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