HK children’s army recruitment explained

The Hong Kong Army Cadets, a semi-fictitious and barely existent youth organization that appeared out of nowhere over the weekend, continues to vex.

Stan-CadetBrainwashTo pro-democrats – and probably most of Hong Kong’s silent majority/fence-sitting residents – the group’s PLA-flavoured militarism is alien and even disturbing. And it naturally offers critics a rich opportunity to accuse the government of attempts to brainwash kids.

Civic Party legislator Kenneth Chan calls it ‘camouflage for indoctrination’. But the junior soldiers’ green tunics are not intended to hide the Hong Kong leadership’s determination to convert the city’s youth into Communist-adoring patriotic Chinese. It is intended to highlight it – and indeed to exaggerate it – for the benefit of big boss Xi Jinping’s hardline regime in Beijing, on its nationwide mission to petrify cadres at every level. You could almost say the idea is to brainwash Beijing into thinking we’re brainwashing Hong Kong.

We can be pretty certain about this because of just one thing: Education Secretary Eddie Ng in an army uniform. To even the most scowling, Maoist, Leftist, patriotic loyalist in Hong Kong, the vision of Eddie as a war-hardened military man is so laughable and ridiculous that you can only conclude this is a joke. In Beijing, of course, where they have been demonizing our education bureaucracy by name, they won’t get it – they’ll think we’re serious.

I wondered yesterday how a youth organization can spontaneously come into existence from nothing complete with massed ranks of members. The South China Morning Post reports that the kids were (surprise and shock!) more or less tricked into taking part. Or to be more accurate, the paper reports that an ‘online news outlet’ reports it. That would be the Epoch Times, run by the deranged Falun Gong quasi-Buddhist loons, and not the most reliable source around – but better than nothing. It makes sense: the marching teens didn’t have that bussed-in-Mainlander look about them.

To the Hong Kong government, the Big Lychee Youth Militia Brigade is, on average, a bit of an embarrassment. Chief Executive CY Leung, fresh from publicly scourging obscure student publications discussing local autonomy, is obviously unapologetic, and maybe oblivious that the public might feel anything is amiss. Eddie would probably like to crawl off into a dark corner and die. The rest of the administration would be somewhere in between, hitting the Quaaludes.

The international media are besmirching Hong Kong’s reputation by saying the Fragrant Harbour Red Detachment of Kiddies is open to anyone over the age of six. This is untrue. The rules clearly state that you must be “over the age of six years…


…and of good character.” So there. No bad elements from the wrong sort of kindergarten, please.

Although clumsy, such attempts to impress Beijing are bound to increase suspicion and fear in Hong Kong. And that points to growing opposition to the local and central governments.

It’s a crowded field, but another pro-democracy group has just been launched. There are so many now that branding and differentiation are becoming a problem. So don’t confuse the newcomers with Hong Kong 2020, which is for moderate old folks. And don’t muddle them with Vision 2047, (nope, never heard of them before either), which seems to be a front for the local chapter of the Dornford Yates Re-creation Society. Behold, 2047 HK Monitor (along with add-on 2047 HK Finance Monitor because, hey, otherwise it would be simple and easy to understand).

2047HK-MonitorThere is a niche for this lot (financial and other professionals of repute, including Edward Chin, David Webb, Sing Ming and Ching Cheong). Their presentation yesterday (bits here) covered several areas, but perhaps the key bit is the relationship between democracy and a sound economy.

Hong Kong’s active pro-democrats are mostly woefully unqualified to discuss anything to do with business and economics, while many senior business and finance figures have investments in the Mainland and keep quiet or stick to the pro-Beijing line. After years of co-opting tycoons and talking jargon pro-dem politicians can’t understand, the Hong Kong establishment has successfully propagated various self-serving myths about the economy and politics.

In short: many if not most people in Hong Kong have a vague perception that democracy might not be entirely compatible with economic prosperity. Certainly, the 2047 HK Monitor idea that a more representative government means a more vibrant and fairer economy is not only counter-intuitive for much of the community but radical and a revelation. For tycoon-bureaucrat vested interests, this is dangerous.

The South China Morning Post and Standard completely ignore yesterday’s 2047 HK Monitor launch.

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17 Responses to HK children’s army recruitment explained

  1. Scotty Dotty says:

    “Over six years old and of good character”

    Good spot from Hemlock.

    This is code for racial purity and political brainwashing.

    Anyway, how the heck do you determine a snotty pre-pubescent is of good character is a mystery which has befuddled the rest of the world. Which is why all credible youth organisations embrace all youuff so they can help mould them into good characters later.

    Hitler Youth was mentioned earlier in this blog. I can see why.

  2. Big Al says:

    God, I get so bored with all the pro-Beijing this and anti-Hong Kong that. Has all this suddenly started, or has is been creeping up for a while and I’ve only just noticed? This is all getting way too complicated for me to understand. I now know how old people feel when presented with modern technology. I think I’ll go to Wanchai and get pissed …

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    What gets me more than anything about the utter clueless, detached-from-reality actions by the so called “leaders” of the SAR, is their continuous insertions of foot-in-mouth and obliviousness to the sensibilities of the “people” time after time after time!
    Immediate pay raises right after a PR apocalypse like OC, FinSec speaking of how he perceives middle class HKers should be and this recent joke of CY tai tai being appointed as Gruppenführer of the HK Jugend!
    (shakes head, buries face in palms)

  4. Cassowary says:

    The only way I can see this astroturf youth organization becoming politically significant is if somebody in the Liaison Office leans on the universities and government to ensure that membership in it guarantees an advantage in university admissions and civil service hiring. Sort of like how rising to the top of the Communist Youth League actually grants one a serious political career in the Mainland. If that sounds far fetched, then I certainly hope it is. But several months ago I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me that triads would be sent to beat up protesters.

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    Cassowary: Amen

  6. Stephen says:

    Nothing inherently wrong with Cadets it’s just the timing and secrecy that smells. That CY Leung is a CCP member and believer and here to do its bidding no longer seems in any doubt. The idea of him until 2022 is making guided democracy seem Heaven sent as even Antony Leung would be preferable. Hong Kong is expendable and even war with Japan possible as long as it keeps the party in power.

  7. Maugrim says:

    Of good character means not a whitey or ah-cha. Certainly not a hark gwei

  8. reductio says:

    Wonder how much the cleaners and street sweepers will be getting extra? With rare exceptions this “government”, and Legco, is a bunch of self-serving, second and third tier sycophantic, self regarding twerps and cowards. Crap squared.

  9. reductio says:

    I like the picture on Bloomberg. Looks like standard issue British Army camo dress to me. However, I must commend the cadets for having well-fitting berets. These are not easy to do. Best done by dipping it in very hot water then shaping it, while wet, on your head. I can still remember the sweet voice of my CSM on parade:

    “Are you waiting for a helicopter, Sir?”

    “No, S’arnt Major!”

    “You sure you not waiting for a helicopter, Sir?”

    “No, Sarnt Major!”

    “Then why the ***k have you got a helicopter landing pad on you ‘ead, Sir? Colour S’arnt, show parade for this man.”

    Happy days indeed.

  10. Hills says:

    You think Mrs CY Leung wears that uniform in the Führer’s Bunker at the Peak? Maybe inviting Eddy to play?

  11. Knownot says:

    The Charge of the Hong Kong Army Cadets

    Making a proud display
    In a peculiar way,
    Dressed like the PLA
    Come the three hundred.
    In a great gathering
    All together they sing
    Praises of Xi Jinping,
    Happy three hundred.

    Mockers to right of them,
    Scoffers to left of them,
    Satirists everywhere.
    All the world wondered.
    What if the people stare?
    They do not know or care.
    Into Bauhinia Square
    Ride the three hundred.

  12. stanley gibbons says:

    Knownot’s in a bit of a funk
    He goes for a sleep in his bunk
    He dreams that Venus
    Is kissing his elbow
    And he wakes up all covered in perspiration….

  13. Joe Blow says:

    Has anyone here ever wondered what will happen when 689’s godfather in the CCP, or the faction that he/she/it belongs to, gets flushed out in Prez Xi’s anti-corruption campaign ?

  14. Peter says:

    Not, of course, to be confused with the Hong Kong Army Cadets, clearly a thoroughly British-inspired outfit. They even retain the crown on their rank insignia. Take a look at this:

    Very rum, indeed. But I know where I’d be sending my six year-old, if I had one.

  15. Hermes says:

    So embarrassing… Don’t they realise how ridiculous they look?
    I wonder how Regina et al managed to accrue all those medals since it’s only just been launched …

    Re: children of ‘good character’, does that mean no children of undesirables, such as democrats? Surely those are precisely the kind of kids they need to indoctrinate? Or do they fear 6 year old moles will infiltrate their organisation?

  16. Laguna Lurker says:

    When I worked in the Police HQ Licensing Office, an application to establish a society under the Societies Ordinance would usually take a couple of months at least, while all the promoters and office bearers were scrutinised as to their backgrounds and suitability. Perhaps it is not a society but a company limited by guarantee. Even that takes quite a while to satisfy all the statutory requirements of the Companies Registry.

    Does anyone know what the organisation’s legal status is? Where can I find a copy of the “rules” excerpted above?

  17. Dear Hemlock,

    I write for the Epoch Times. I’m glad you found the article, written by my colleague Larry Ong, helpful. Three things.

    SCMP was probably referring to the ‘online news outlet’ that ET used for its piece—i.e. Stand News (a kind of reincarnation of House News.) The link for the piece is here (Chinese):

    Epoch Times is not “run” by Falun Gong. The newspaper was started and is run by overseas Chinese emigres. The persecution of Falun Gong, along with the Tiananmen massacre and other abuses, was certainly a major impetus in the founding of the paper, and we continue to report on it—it’s one of the biggest crimes against humanity in the world today, so of course we find it newsworthy. Some staff practice Falun Gong, but we do not speak for Falun Gong and have no official relationship with the practice. Why not just call us an independent newspaper based in New York founded by overseas Chinese? The official story is here: — take a look. It can’t hurt, and you’ll probably learn something.

    Why do you disparage Falun Gong as “deranged,” “quasi-Buddhist loons”? Have they done anything to you? It’s a practice of meditation and moral discipline. Why must it be sneered at? For reference, here is how some experts explain Falun Gong:

    “Falun Gong is a spiritual practice whose key features are qigong exercises and teachings reminiscent of Buddhist and Taoist traditions that have been an essential dimension of Chinese culture for thousands of years.” — researcher Sarah Cook speaking to US Congress

    “Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual discipline for mind and body. It combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions.” – Wikipedia, heavily referenced.

    “The best way to describe Falun Gong is as a cultivation system. Cultivation systems have been a feature of Chinese life for at least 2 500 years and probably much more. They are sets of mental and physical regimens that may involve special techniques of breathing, exercises, visualisations, meditations, diets, behaviours, or sexual practices that aim at refining the body into a higher form. The various versions of qigong are all cultivation systems, though some have been stripped down to the simple physical aspect. Taiji quan—or taichi as it is known here —is one of these.” — Benjamin Penny, scholar of Chinese religions

    “Falun Gong … combines an exercise regimen with with meditation and a set of moral principles. The practice and beliefs are derived from qigong, a set of movements through which one channels vital energies, and Buddhist and Taoist ideas. Falun Gong promises physical well-being, emotional tranquility, and an understanding of life and one’s place in the world.” — from a 1999 Congressional Research Service report.

    The point is that there are ways to talk about this group that do not include gratuitously attacking and marginalising it. It’s a persecuted group in China right now, by the way. By saying such dismissive, nasty things, you inadvertently perpetuate the idea that these people are somehow unworthy victims, because they’re “deranged” and “loony” (of course, completely subjective and quite meaningless characterisations that simply express your contempt—why?—rather than say anything about the practice.)

    A personal note: I have read your book. I follow your blog and have always appreciated its insights. When it comes to the Communist Party’s designs on Hong Kong, we’re on the same page. Overall, the point here is that you’re delivering a nasty, gratuitous insult to people you don’t know for no good reason. What is the point of that? If there is a problem with the reporting, then you should call it out. But why go to the trouble of simultaneously dismissing a legitimate media organization for no good reason, and attacking a traditional discipline of Chinese meditation? It’s simply unbecoming, ungentlemanly, and petty. Such meanness, I thought, was quite beneath the noble Hemlock.

    If you’d like to discuss either matter further please feel free to reach out. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying your blog!


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