I was still in primary school when the British handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997, but there was one thing that stood out to me – the People’s Liberation Army streaming across the border into Hong Kong.
An advance party of 200 unarmed People’s Liberation Army troops were permitted into Hong Kong before the handover, with 509 armed troops and 39 vehicles crossing the border at 21:00 on June 30, 1997 – three hours before the official handover.
This contemporary Hong Kong TV news report shows their arrival into the city.
The procession was made up of open trucks loaded with troops.
There are a number of border crossings between Hong Kong and China, with the People’s Liberation Army using more than one – both the Wenjindu Port / Man Kam To Control Point complex to the east of Lo Wu, and the Huanggang Port / Lok Ma Chau Control Point complex at Lok Ma Chau.
Today around 6,000 People’s Liberation Army personnel are garrisoned in Hong Kong, where they drive right-hand drive vehicles the carry number plates that start with ZG, standing for zhugang (駐港) – Chinese for “stationed in Hong Kong”.
Wikipedia has more on the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison.
The leadup to the June 30th 1997 handover can be seen in this Sky News piece.
With the actual handover ceremony found in this video.
Finding photos of the People’s Liberation Army entering Hong Kong was surprisingly difficult – here are some I found online:
Christ you make me feel old, I was there at the handover, a 21yr old Australian student on my way out of a year in China.
(And those PLA trucks looked ancient even back then).
Their trucks look a little more modern these days!