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Hong Kong Police Adopts Marching Style of Authoritarian Regimes

Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: January 18, 2022
Police officers perform a goose-stepping march, the same style used by police and troops by the Chinese communist regime. They performed the authoritarian-style march at the city's police college to mark the National Security Education Day in Hong Kong on April 15, 2021.
Police officers perform a goose-stepping march, the same style used by police and troops by the Chinese communist regime. They performed the authoritarian-style march at the city's police college to mark the National Security Education Day in Hong Kong on April 15, 2021. (Image: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ever since the National Security Law was passed in Hong Kong in 2020, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) has been implementing policies that align itself more with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Recently, the HKPF has decided to adopt Chinese goose-stepping drills, replacing the UK military step it has been using in its marches until now.

“The goose-stepping marching style, where uniformed officers kick straight-legged in a robotic manner, was first used by Prussian soldiers and has become a hallmark of authoritarian regimes including Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China,” the HKFP stated.

The staff from the PLA’s army barracks in Hong Kong have been instructing the city’s officers on the stepping technique since Feb. 2021. On April 15 during the National Security Education Day, the Chinese goose-stepping technique was demonstrated for the first time in public by Hong Kong’s police officers. The new stepping technique will officially become a part of the daily routine of officers beginning July 1, a day which marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer to communist China by Britain.

In the second quarter, the Hong Kong Police College will conduct workshops that will educate frontline officers on the goose-stepping technique. The immigration, excise, and customs departments have also demonstrated the stepping technique during some of their ceremonies. In an annual report, the city’s firefighters had mentioned that they will switch to Chinese goose-stepping by the end of January.

The force has “actively planned for the full rollout of Chinese-style foot drills in order to show patriotism and foster love for our motherland and Hong Kong,” police told the AFP in a statement.

It isn’t clear whether the Hong Kong police were directly instructed by Beijing to adopt the Chinese goose-stepping technique. It would be considered to be in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984. 

According to the declaration, China only has control over Hong Kong’s defense and foreign affairs. However, Beijing passed the National Security Law and has intensified its crackdown against the democratic values and freedom of expression of Hong Kong. The instruction to use goose-stepping would be a comparatively small change.

The Hong Kong police have used their newfound powers to disrupt and the crackdown on any protest or media outlet that has a pro-democracy stance. In late December, Stand News was forced to shut down operations after the police raided its offices, arresting several senior staff employees. Chief Secretary of police John Lee justified the raid saying that there will be “zero tolerance” for any behavior that threatens national security. In a statement on Dec. 29, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the arrests.

“Freedom of expression, including media freedom, and access to information provided by an independent media are critical to prosperous and secure societies. These freedoms enabled Hong Kong to flourish as a global center for finance, trade, education, and culture. By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong’s credibility and viability. A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press,” Blinken stated.

After the National Security Law was passed, Hong Kong police were given the authority to raid premises without any warrant from the court under “exceptional circumstances.” The rule also allows officers to search electronic devices and vehicles. 

Police were empowered to remove online content that is likely to result in “an offense endangering national security.” If a person is believed to be a threat to national security, the city’s security chief can issue an order to freeze all assets linked to the person.