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Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews People's Liberation Army Hong Kong troops in Hong Kong on June 30. (Photo by Nozomu Ogawa)

Local Chinese troops greet Xi with their largest-ever ceremony in Hong Kong

Many items banned from gathering, including tablets, pens and umbrellas

KENJI KAWASE, Nikkei deputy editor | Hong Kong, Macau

HONG KONG -- Since the day of pouring rain 20 years ago, when the first 509 Chinese soldiers crossed the Shenzhen River separating Hong Kong and the mainland to take back control of the territory from the British, the People's Liberation Army has been operating from about a dozen bases there.

The Hong Kong Command of the PLA is not as visible as other mainland entities in the territory, perhaps out of sensitivity to the long and vivid memories Hong Kong citizens hold of the military's role in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Even though the issue of stationing troops in the territory after the 1997 handover was one of the major sticking points during the negotiations with the U.K. -- with Deng Xiaoping, then paramount leader, insisting on it as a core means for Beijing to exercise its sovereignty -- the Chinese Communist Party's military is constantly trying to show an amicable face to the local community. Activities range from voluntary tree planting to donating blood.

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