Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Hong Kong government has created a new para-military force composed of cadets (middle school and high school students) and modeled on the army of mainland China. The "commander in chief" of this new group is Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, wife of the contested Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. The purpose of the formation, according to the Communist newspaper China Daily, "is to promote civic awareness through training and team spirit".
The inauguration was held last January
18, 2015 at one of the People's
Liberation Army barracks in the Territory. Under national law, Hong Kong has a "high
degree of autonomy" in various fields:
but not foreign affairs and defense.
This is why, since the return of the former British
colony to mainland China, Beijing
has opened barracks and training
centers of the army recruits in the Territory.
According to the South China Morning Post, only pro- Beijing journalists were allowed to the event. The uniforms of the cadets, given away to those present, are modeled on those of the Chinese national army. It is not yet clear what program the cadets will follow, but if that of the mother country it will be a weekly meetings to "study the principles of the socialist state of China" and prepare through gymnastics and the rudiments of military art to "defend the 'integrity of the nation".
Fung Wai-wah, head of the Teachers Union of Hong Kong, defines this development as "dangerous", which "clearly stems from the popular Occupy Central protests". The reference is the occupation of the financial and commercial heart of Hong Kong by the Occupy Central with Peace and Love movement and the Federation of Students. The two groups came together to ask the central government to respect the right to democracy in Hong Kong, as per the agreement between London and Beijing before 1997. The Chinese mainland responded by maintaining its political reform for the Territory - which in reality annuls popular vote - and by clearing the barricades.
Fung says "linking a uniformed group with the Peoples Liberation Army is obviously a sign of building a stronger sense of Chinese national identity ". called the new cadet force a "worrying" sign that will fuel fears China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong. "The (Chinese) military have for years been quite self-restrained. They don't get involved in local things. Suddenly to do it in such a high profile way, of course people are very worried," Lau said.
propaganda, however, the new
body does not seem to attract many young people of Hong Kong. The pro-Beijing
media have called the first day "a success" and spoke of "hundreds
of new cadets." Two boys, interviewed by the South China Morning Post and anonymous for
security reasons, report being presented to the media as "members of the organization", but
deny that they enrolled: "We went out of curiosity along with other friends, but we certainly have not signed up".
The chairman of the Government Youth Commission Bunny Chung-bun, who had presented the cadets to the press, was forced to back down: "In reality, there were more than 300 children at the opening ceremony, but only a few dozen signed p to be recruited. The others were just spectators".