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SAR youths may join PLA in future
By Teddy Ng (HK Edition)

Hong Kong youths may be able to join the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in future, PLA Hong Kong Garrison commander Wang Jitang said yesterday.

Speaking in a press conference on the garrison's 10th anniversary, he pointed out that the nation currently has no plans to recruit Hong Kong people as soldiers.

However, with more youngsters understanding the principle of "one country, two systems" and the army work, Wang said these youngsters may be able to join the army in the future.

The PLA Garrison had helped in protecting the SAR's stability and prosperity in accordance with the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle.

Wang said the PLA Garrison had established action plans for emergency events and conducted drills with relevant authorities of the SAR government.

He said the garrison and the SAR government had a coordination mechanism to cope with emergency events, and the PLA would provide assistance when necessary.

The PLA Garrison had prepared contingency plan during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and shared information with the police in 2005 when protests were held during the World Trade Organization ministerial conference.

"We have shared information with police and given our opinion in handling similar situation. But we are confident that Hong Kong police can fully protect the stability of Hong Kong," Wang said.

He said the main contribution of the PLA Garrison was to maintain the stability and prosperity of the SAR, and enhance public understanding of the army.

When asked how the PLA Garrison would handle if there was a terrorist attack in Hong Kong or cross-strait conflict, Wang said they are closely monitoring the situation.

He said the PLA Garrison would continue strengthening legal education among the soldiers and their sense of upholding the laws.

Wang also said State leaders would visit the PLA Garrison as part of Hong Kong's reunification celebration activities, and the army would ensure related security arrangement.

Zhang Rucheng, political commissar of the PLA Garrison, said there were differences between the soldiers serving in Hong Kong and on the mainland as Hong Kong soldiers were serving duties under the "one country, two systems" principle, and they need to obey both Hong Kong and national laws.

Zhang said apart from handling defense affairs of Hong Kong, the PLA Garrison had also maintained a civilized image.

The conduct of the soldiers was fine despite the incident in which an off-duty officer had taken away a HK$35 key chain without paying it in Hong Kong Disneyland last February, Zhang said.

He said the PLA Garrison would fully cooperate with the police and the judiciary, while that officer would be subject to disciplinary action based on military rules.

"This was the only case of violating rules during our 10 years of service in Hong Kong. This is an individual case," Zhang said.

There were 70 cases of British soldiers violating rules a year before the reunification, he added.

Zhang said the PLA Garrison would continue launching activities to enhance public understanding of the army.

The PLA Garrison had held 14 opening day activities in which 270,000 community members had participated.

(HK Edition 06/21/2007 page6)

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