HK police bid farewell to “Yes, Sir”; changes remove colonial marks, bring back memories of ending century-long humiliation in 1997
Published: Jul 01, 2022 10:21 PM
Police officers of the HKSAR practice Chinese-style foot drills. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

Police officers of the HKSAR practice Chinese-style foot drills. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

Bidding farewell to the era of saying "Yes, Sir!" in English, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) will embrace more new changes starting Friday, from taking Chinese-style marching, to new uniforms for counterterrorism units, and equipping officers with domestically produced anti-riot vehicles - all of which have been hailed by the Chinese people as they recalled the historical moment 25 years ago when the city's defense was handed over back to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), washing away a century of humiliation from the West. 

A flag-raising ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland was held at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai on Friday with the flag guard formation walking in square in Chinese-style foot drills.

The new changes have attracted much attention especially on social media with many hailing the Chinese-style foot drills which fully underscore the HKPF's spirit in the new era. 

From Friday, the HKPF will replace the British-style foot drills with the Chinese-style foot drills used by the PLA and officers will call out command in Chinese "Yes, Sir!" - bidding farewell to the English answer "Yes, Sir!" 

The Global Times has learned from officers at the Hong Kong Police College in Wong Chuk Hang that they have been practicing the Chinese style foot drills and such a symbolic change in ideology is a removal of a legacy of colonialism, which has symbolic meaning for the country and for the HKSAR. 

"Every one of us feels proud of adopting the Chinese-style foot drills," a student surnamed Chen from the police college told the Global Times, noting that the Chinese-style foot drills also represent a sense of belonging and national feelings for the motherland.

The Disciplined Services adopting the Chinese-style foot drills indeed removed the colonial characteristics of the city, and it will help unify Hong Kong society and fully underscore that the HKSAR is an inseparable part of China, Hong Kong Junior Police Officers' Association Chairman Lam Chi-wai told the Global Times.

Lam said that such a move also demonstrates police officers are patriots and will enhance the public awareness of their identity as Chinese nationals and cultivate the sentiment of loving China, loving Hong Kong. 

Aside from taking the Chinese-style marching, three forces of the HKPF - airport security unit, counter terrorism response unit, railway response team will receive new uniforms with different colors made by the mainland to embrace the 25th anniversary of the city's returning to the motherland. 

Moreover, the HKPF also brought domestic Chinese anti-riot vehicles which have also been used in the mainland, the Global Times has learned. 

Chinese people hailed the new changes of the HKPF and watched the livestreaming of the flag-raising ceremony on Friday.

Some netizens commented that seeing the soldiers adopting Chinese-style marching makes them think about the unforgettable moment of taking Hong Kong back to the motherland 25 years ago when PLA commander Tan Shan'ai said to the UK lieutenant colonel Jeremy Ellis at the defense handover ceremony that "You are relieved from duty! We are on duty!"

Photos and video footage of the handover ceremony in 1997 went viral on social media and topics on Hong Kong have ranked as most trending and mostly searched ones on Sina Weibo. Many netizens posted old photos of themselves or family members celebrating the moment of seeing Chinese people washing the century of humiliation by taking Hong Kong back from the British colonizers. 

Among the photos, one shows Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming, who was 20 years old that year and wore the shirt of the Beijing Film Academy, while cheerily celebrating Hong Kong's return with his classmates by waving hands and colorful silk braids. The fireworks lit up the sky and lit the big smiles of these young people and the night behind.  

Wong Cho-lam, a Hong Kong entertainer, also posted photos of him standing in the Tiananmen Square in 1997 and a new photo taking on Friday of him standing in the same place in the square on Sina Weibo. He wrote that "from 1997 to 2022, our hands are held together and our hearts are close to each other. Best wishes to the motherland! Best wishes to Hong Kong!"

Video clips of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's meeting with then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Beijing discussing the handover of Hong Kong and videos of scenes of China and the UK on signing the Joint Declaration on the question of Hong Kong have also been reposted by netizens on Friday.

Some netizens also posted the video footage that records "Iron Lady" Thatcher stumbling after meeting with much tougher "Steel Factor" Deng Xiaoping in 1982 and commented that "Thatcher at that time realized she had no bargaining chip in negotiations over HK, which leaders of some Western countries don't have yet currently. Arrogance and evil will eventually kneel down to justice." 

The city of Hong Kong has also been immersed in the happy atmosphere of celebrating the 25th anniversary of its return to the motherland on Friday - five-starred red flags of China and the flags of the HKSAR are waving with wind in streets in Hong Kong. 

The shopping mall APM in Kwun Tong also held an exhibition to display the historic videos and images on Hong Kong's return 25 years ago, attracting many visitors. 

Staffs from the service center of the Federation of HK Guangxi Community Organization in Kowloon were seen by the Global Times of watching a livestream of the ceremony on the celebration of the 25th anniversary of HK's return on Friday morning. 

A female employee said, "It's like celebrating the New Year! But happier than that!"

Many residents reached by the Global Times on Friday also expressed their joy and some noted that celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return makes them feel like the city is returning to the motherland the second time especially after the riots and chaos in 2019. 

They also uttered hope for the new HKSAR government to work with the residents in Hong Kong to strive for a better future. 

Jackson Wong, vice president of the Kowloon Federation of Associations, told the Global Times that he has confidence in the new HKSAR government and the central government and believes that backed by the mainland, the city will find ways to solve problems and shine brighter as the "Pearl of the Orient."