Hong Kong law enforcers readying for switch to ‘goose steps’ of Chinese marching

Published (HKT): 2021.02.24 06:35

Hong Kong’s police and four other law enforcement forces are planning to switch to Chinese-style marching steps from the British style in use since the colonial era, Apple Daily has learned.

Tutors from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison were sent to the Hong Kong Police College on Monday to hold two weeks of training for the city’s law enforcement officers, sources told Apple Daily.

The unprecedented training, conducted by 10 tutors from the PLA guard of honor, would pave the way for every law enforcement agency in Hong Kong to ultimately adopt the Chinese-style “goose steps” in all of its daily training and performances, the sources said.

It was also meant to ensure that a police parade next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover would feature Chinese-style marching for the first time, the sources said.

Police officials were studying a timetable for the unprecedented switch while carrying on with the British style in its passing-out parades for the time being, Apple Daily learned.

In a reply to Apple Daily’s inquiries, the police said the PLA tutors had visited their college on invitation for training and exchanges on marching steps. The British-style steps had not been replaced yet, and would continue to be used in training and ceremonies, the force said. On Monday, police chief Chris Tang told reporters that the force would review its marching style but had no immediate plans to change it.

Another law enforcement agency, the Correctional Services Department, confirmed that it had also invited PLA tutors for similar training and was planning to introduce Chinese-style marching to all its officers in phases.

Beijing has been mounting pressure on Hong Kong to get rid of its British steps. The central government’s local liaison office in 2018 exerted pressure on seven uniformed groups, including St. John Ambulance and the Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps, to conform to Chinese military marching, but in May last year, four cadet groups caused controversy when they did so at a flag-raising ceremony.

In the British way of marching, the heel touches the ground before the rest of the foot. Both arms are straightened up to the shoulders and wave forward and backward. The Chinese goose step, by comparison, starts with a kick, then the whole foot lands on the ground. Marchers may sway their arms left and right and are not required to straighten them.

Apple Daily has asked the Fire Services, Customs and Excise, and Immigration departments for comment. The government’s Security Bureau, overseeing all the law enforcement agencies, said individual departments decided on their marching styles based on the actual situation.

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