Hong Kong Garrison – The Making of a Soldier

Through the eyes of two new recruits, we go behind the lines of the People’s Liberation Army in China to experience what it takes to become a member of Hong Kong’s defence force.

Produced by NHNZ

At midnight on July 1st 1997 the eyes of the world focused on the tiny island of Hong Kong. As the clock struck twelve, four thousand troops crossed the border to reclaim the island after 150 years of British rule.

The hand-over was such a significant event for Chinese people that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began recruiting and training Hong Kong’s new army garrison four years in advance.

Through the eyes of two young recruits—nineteen year old Han Qiang and twenty year old Xu Zhao—we witness members of the garrison being transformed from young boys into disciplined soldiers of an army very different to those of the western world.

We join Xu Zhao in his second year at Hong Kong Garrison when he sets his sights on being part of the prestigious Guard of Honour on the changeover day. He’s determined to be an admirable soldier and copes well with the physical and mental hardship of being part of the elite force.

Han Qiang on the other hand quickly succumbs to the pressures of being away from home for the first time. The relentless marching drills in the early hours of the morning and the isolation from the outside world are too much for him and after less than a week in the army he decides to quit.

But his political instructor convinces him to give the army another chance.

As the hand-over draws near, the gruelling physical training gets tougher, the marching drills stricter, the room for error narrower, and the self-criticism sessions more regular. Tensions rise as the PLA officers desperately try to orchestrate a flawless hand-over, knowing that on the night the whole world will be watching.

Han Qiang musters enough courage to stay in the Hong Kong Garrison and graduates as a dedicated, capable member of the elite force. But will Xu Zhao’s dream of becoming part of the Guard of Honour come true as history is made in front of millions of people from all corners of the world? All will be revealed in Hong Kong Garrison—Making of a Soldier.

From the emotional goodbyes with their proud parents, we join these inexperienced new recruits as they progress through the ranks of the garrison until it’s time for them to take up their posts at the hand-over ceremony.

We share the heartache, frustration and determination of these dedicated young men, and learn what it takes to be part of Hong Kong’s new defence force. Above all we witness the trials and tribulations and the punishing training needed to become a soldier of the People’s Liberation Army.

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