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Military drills should be welcomed as show of national solidarity

By Song Sio Chong | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-11 07:46

On the sweltering summer morning of July 4, the Hong Kong Garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) held a live-fire military drill at its Castle Peak Firing Range. Lasting 40 minutes, it was the largest-scale military drill with live ammunition that has ever taken place in Hong Kong. It was also the first time since the handover that the garrison opened the military exercise to the media as well as 500 guests from the local community.

Intriguingly, some media in Hong Kong were tempted to conflate the military drill with the new National Security Law passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) on July 1. Seemingly overwhelmed, they expressed the fear that it was a gesture of suppression and restriction on freedom. The pro-establishment camp, in response, appeased the startled birds by suggesting that one should not read too much into the timing of the drill. A more assertive politician said, "Why use an ox cleaver to kill a chicken?"

I find the controversy bizarre. Article 14 of the Basic Law provides that: "The Central People's Government shall be responsible for the defense of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region." A decision of the NPCSC on July 1 1997 added "Law of the People's Republic of China on the Garrisoning of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" to Annex III of the Basic Law. By virtue of Article 18 of the Basic Law, the Garrisoning Law is a national law applied in Hong Kong.

Military drills should be welcomed as show of national solidarity

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