Hong Kong’s PLA garrison to take part in joint China-Laos military exercise

The People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong will take part in joint military drills between China and Laos this week, the fourth time it has taken part in an international exercise.

The drills held, called Friendship Shield 2024, will begin in Laos on Friday and run until July 18.

China’s defence ministry said the Hong Kong garrison would contribute the bulk of the PLA contingent adding that the exercise will help deepen trust and cooperation between the two militaries and “inject positive energy into regional peace and stability”.

The PLA garrison in Macau and a logistics department based in the southwestern region of Guangxi will also contribute troops.

It is the two countries’ second joint exercise following a drill in May last year in Laos involving the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command.

This month’s drill will involve more than 1,200 troops including more than 300 from China, according to state news agency Xinhua. All Chinese personnel had arrived in Laos by Tuesday to prepare for the exercise.

The two countries pledged to work more closely together on defence, including joint exercises and training, during a visit to Beijing by Laotian President Thongloun Sisoulith in December 2022.

China has also been trying to shore up military ties with other countries in Southeast Asia. Last year, it held its first naval drills with Cambodia in March and also carried out nautical exercises with Singapore.

The Hong Kong garrison took part in its first international exercise in Malaysia in November 2016.

The four-day drill – focusing on joint humanitarian rescue operations – involved 300 troops, including 195 PLA representatives from the Central Military Commission, Southern Theatre Command and Hong Kong garrison.

It then took part in a joint maritime exercise focusing on search and rescue operations with the French frigate Vendémiaire when it made a port call to the city in March 2018.

The Hong Kong garrison also took part in the first joint exercise involving China, Malaysia and Thailand in October that year.



Hong Kong-based warship joins drill in South China Sea

Hong Kong-based warship joins drill in South China Sea

That 10-day drill was also the first overseas operation for the Macau garrison and involved a total of 1,225 personnel, 692 of them from China.

Some of the PLA forces involved assembled in Hong Kong and left from the city’s airport – the first time it had been used by the military.

The PLA garrisons in Hong Kong and Macau were established after their respective handovers from Britain in 1997 and Portugal in 1999.



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