The head of the liaison office’s youth department, Chen Lin, said on Friday that it did not take the initiative to ask uniformed groups to change their marching style from British to Chinese, but only offered to help with a switch when asked.
He made the remarks after the Ming Pao newspaper earlier reported that some of the 14 uniformed groups in the city felt Beijing officials were attempting to "decolonise them" in preparation for a ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square next year to mark the 100th anniversary of China's May the Fourth Movement.
In response, Chen said the office “totally respects” each uniformed group’s preference and that “there’s no need to exert pressure” on anyone.
He said the meeting with the uniformed groups was arranged by the ceremony's organiser after some groups said they wanted to switch to Chinese-style marching and expressed the hope that the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong garrison could provide training.
Chen added “it might be rather troublesome” if the groups were to hire trainers specially from the United Kingdom if they continue adopting the British marching style, and that it’s more convenient for the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison to provide training.
He added that it’s only normal for the liaison office to help if any uniformed groups need assistance.
Sources from several groups told RTHK that the liaison office discussed the matter with them at a recent meeting, but they were not being forced to adopt the suggestion.
All but one of the groups currently use a British style of marching, where the arms and feet are moved in a different manner to the style used by mainland troops.