Military history of Hong Kong

The Military history of Hong Kong is dated back to Qin conquest. As Hong Kong is on the sea routes to the city of Guangzhou, the territories of Hong Kong served as an outer port. Numerous of precious resources like salt and pearl on the shore of Hong Kong. Thus, there is a long history of military and navy garrisoning the territories.

Imperial China

Qin conquered southern China in 214 BCE, followed by the establishment kingdom of Nanyue. However, there are neither historical records nor archaeological finding on military in Hong Kong during this period.

The Empire of Han conquered the kingdom of Nanyue in 111 BCE. The extensive shore in the territories of Hong Kong attracted the government office to build fields for the production of salt. It is believed that there was military presence to guard against this important mineral though there is little evidence about it.

The Empire of Jin later rules the territories of Hong Kong. In 403, Lo Tun (盧循) occupies the city of Pun Yue, the present-day Guangzhou, and surrounding area. He led a fleet to attack Jin but deadly failed in 411. His followers occupied the Lantau Island.

In 621, the Empire of Tang finished conquest the southern China. The empire built a military and naval base in Tuen Mun to ensure the safety of Guangzhou and the seas around Hong Kong. The navy of Tuen Mun pacified the water against pirates.

British force

Hong Kong has never had its own military forces because it has never been a sovereign state, except voluntary auxiliary force like The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers). All defence matters have been dependent on the state which controls Hong Kong. Before the British handover to PRC sovereignty, defence was provided by the British military, who stationed soldiers in barracks throughout Hong Kong, including the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong. Its finance was supported by the Hong Kong Government.


The People's Republic of China's State Council assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong on 1 July 1997 and stationed a garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to manage its defence affairs. Although the garrison has little practical military value, the stationing of the PLA troops in Hong Kong is a significant symbol of the PRC government's assumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong.

According to Hong Kong's Basic Law, military forces stationed in Hong Kong shall not interfere with local civil affairs; the Hong Kong Government shall remain responsible for the maintenance of public order. The Hong Kong Garrison, composed of ground, naval, and air forces, is under the command of the Chinese Central Military Commission. The garrison subsequently opened its barracks on Stonecutters Island and Stanley to the public to promote understanding and trust between the troops and residents.

On 4 April 1990, the Hong Kong Basic Law was officially accepted as the mini-constitution of the Hong Kong SAR after the handover. The pro-Beijing bloc welcomed the Basic Law, calling it the most democratic legal system to ever exist in the PRC. The pro-democratic bloc criticized it as not democratic enough. In July 1992, Chris Patten was appointed as the last British Governor of Hong Kong. Patten had been Chairman of the Conservative Party in the UK until he lost his parliamentary seat in the general election earlier that year. Relations with the PRC government in Beijing became increasingly strained, as Patten introduced democratic reforms that increased the number of elected members in the Legislative Council. This caused considerable annoyance to the PRC, which saw this as a breach of the Basic Law. On 1 July 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China by the United Kingdom. The old Legislative Council, elected under Chris Patten's reforms, was replaced by the Provisional Legislative Council elected by a selection committee whose members were appointed by the PRC government. Tung Chee Hwa, elected in December by a selection committee with members appointed by the PRC government, assumed duty as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

The new millennium would signal a series of events. A sizeable portion of the population who were previously against the handover found themselves living with the adjustments. Article 23 became a controversy, and led to a marches in different parts of Hong Kong with as many as 750,000 people out of a population of approximately 6,800,000 at the time. The government also dealt with the SARS outbreak in 2003. Other health crisis such as the Bird Flu Pandemic (H5N1) gained momentum from the late 90s, and led to the disposal of millions of chicken and poultry. The slaughtering put Hong Kong at the center of global discussions. At the same time, the economy is trying to rebound fiscally. Hong Kong Disneyland was also introduced in the much turbulent time. In a very short time, the political climate heated up and the Chief Executive position would be challenged culturally, politically and managerially.

Further reading

External links

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