Feb. 24 (UPI) -- China's People's Liberation Army soldiers are teaching Hong Kong police the mainland style of marching for the first time, as Beijing-approved election reforms are being supported among local authorities.
According to a Hong Kong press report published to On.cc, the flagship website of the Oriental Press Group, the PLA's Hong Kong Garrison Honor Guard Battalion began a two-week training program for Hong Kong police officers on Monday. Officers from customs and Hong Kong's correctional services are also participating, the report said.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said the training does not impact current norms. Traditional British foot drills will remain the standard for the 33,000 officers in the force, Tang said, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Chinese style of marching includes goose stepping and 90-degree arm swings. According to the Post, Hong Kong officers will march in the PLA style during a handover anniversary parade on July 1, 2022.
"The training is to beef up officers' knowledge and skills so that police could for the first time perform Chinese-style marching parades in next year's 25th handover anniversary celebrations," a Hong Kong government source told the paper. "Police have no plan to switch from our British marching style at the moment."
Tang provided his statement on the training Tuesday after pictures showing PLA troops in their green uniforms instructing Hong Kong police officers began to circulate online.
China has backed new regulations in Hong Kong after mass protests in 2019, including the passage of the Hong Kong Security Law, which criminalizes subversion against the Chinese government.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has endorsed the new bills and more recently supported proposals from Beijing for electoral reform that could vet politicians and encourage the selection of "patriotic" or pro-Beijing candidates in key committees.