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Hong Kong Garrison Of The PLA

PLA Special Forces of the Hong Kong Garrison participate in a counter-terrorism drill at Shek Kong Air Base, a former RAF airfield in the north of Hong Kong [© GA]

Earlier this year the Hong Kong Garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened three of its military camps to the public, writes Gordon Arthur.

 

The Hong Kong Garrison Open Day events revolved around the date of 1st July, this being the anniversary holiday of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.

 

The first PLA 5.8mm calibre improved QBZ95-1 rifles were shown publicly in the Hong Kong Garrison in July 2012 [© GA]

Such is their popularity, and the curiosity surrounding what the PLA actually does in Hong Kong, that the 30,000 Open Day tickets given out to residents were snapped up within a couple of hours.

 

This year JOINT-FORCES.com was able to attend and although each year the Open Days typically repeat what was seen in previous years occasionally new pieces of equipment can be seen, especially as the Hong Kong Garrison is often among the first PLA units to receive new kit as it is rolled out.

 

This view shows PLA soldiers giving a martial arts performance – the most common martial art form in the PLA synthesises traditional kung fu techniques [© GA]

As per usual, the 2018 Open Days included a flag-raising ceremony with a guard of honour, precision marching, a military band, martial arts demonstrations and a miniature combat demonstration. The latter is generally the most interesting, typically involving a few vehicles, motorcycle side-cars and Special Forces troops who capture simulated terrorists to save the day.

 

The Hong Kong Garrison is unique in that it combines PLA Army, Navy and Air Force elements under a single command. Nobody really knows how large the garrison is – even the Hong Kong government claims to be ignorant of the exact number – but it is speculated to contain some 6,000 members; however, not all these troops are based in Hong Kong at any one time.

 

Serried ranks of Chinese soldiers perform a mass demonstration with Type 95-1 rifles with bayonets affixed [© GA]

The Army brigade of the Hong Kong Garrison is estimated to contain three Motorised Infantry battalions, an Armoured Infantry battalion equipped with Type 92B 6×6 armoured personnel carriers (APC), an Engineer and Chemical battalion, a Special Forces battalion, a Motor Transport company and an Air Defence battalion equipped with the HQ-6A weapon system.

 

It is unclear how many Special Forces personnel are stationed in Hong Kong, but the figure could be around 120. Anti-terrorism duties are one of their key missions, despite the fact that the territory’s law says the first responsibility to deal with a counter-terrorism incident rests with the Hong Kong Police.

 

Special Forces fast-rope from a Z-8KH helicopter, a unique variant used only by the Hong Kong Garrison and an unauthorised Chinese copy of the French Super Frelon [© GA]

As part of a counter-terrorism demonstration at Shek Kong Air Base in the New Territories on 30th June, the garrison employed a Z-8KH helicopter, the first time that this large helicopter of the PLA Air Force has been publicly demonstrated in flight. Four such Z-8KHs are believed to be based in Hong Kong after they arrived in 2011. The Z-8KH is specially configured for Search & Rescue duties, and they operate alongside no more than eight Z-9WA armed helicopters and Z-9ZH command-and-control helicopters of the PLA’s Army Aviation branch.

 

The PLA Navy is also part of the Hong Kong Garrison, and its Stonecutters Island Naval Base hosted open houses on 1st and 2nd July. Here the public could go aboard one of two Type 056 corvettes stationed in Hong Kong, as well as a Type 037-II Houjian-class missile patrol boat and a Type 074 Yuhai-class landing ship.

 

The Hong Kong Garrison keeps a low profile, and its members are not allowed to exit their camps or to mix with Hong Kong citizens. Furthermore, Hong Kongers are not entitled or permitted to join the ranks of the PLA.

{ images © Gordon Arthur }

Here a team of PLA Special Forces soldiers armed with Type 95 rifles performs a counter-terrorism drill [© GA]

These PLA Special Forces soldiers prepare to storm a terrorist hideout – lead soldier carries a ballistic shield and is armed with a QSL92 semi-automatic 9mm pistol [© GA]

More Chinese soldiers, this time holding QBZ95-1 (QBZ stands for Qing Buqiang Zu or light rifle family) assault rifles that fire a 5.8 x 42mm DBP87 cartridge from a 30-round magazine [© GA]

The PLA operates Dong Feng EQ2050 4×4 vehicles that are obviously copied from the iconic American HMMWV – this vehicle is seen driving over soldiers lying in its path [© GA]

A relatively recent addition to the Hong Kong Garrison is the Dong Feng CSK131 4×4 light armoured vehicle – this 3.7-tonne example has a roof-mounted 12.7mm QJZ89 heavy machine gun [© GA]

The 15.3-tonne ZSL92B (Type 92B) is a 6×6 APC with amphibious capability offering significant firepower thanks to a 30mm cannon, coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and HJ-73D antitank guided missile [© GA]

A Jialing JH600BJ side-car combination powered by a 590cc engine is ridden by a female soldier – note that she has tilted it onto two wheels [© GA]

These soldiers are wearing the four-colour pixellated Type 07 uniform that debuted in Hong Kong in mid-2007 – this is the Special Forces Camo pattern [© GA]

This soldier is carrying a 12-gauge QBS09 shotgun suitable for breaching during a counter-terrorism drill – this semi-automatic shotgun produced by Norinco was introduced in 2009

Special Forces soldiers crawl under a fiery obstacle as they complete a confidence course at the Stonecutters Island Naval Base – the red armband represents friendly forces [© GA]

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