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Chinese soldiers leave British garrison as handover looms

December 15, 1996

HONG KONG (AP) _ Hong Kong Chinese soldiers serving in the British army held a ceremonial farewell parade in anticipation of the colony’s return to Chinese rule.

About 470 members of the Hong Kong Military Service Corps took their final salute Saturday in front of Gov. Chris Patten and Britain’s top army commander in Hong Kong, Maj. Gen. Bryan Dutton.

The entire corps will formally disband on March 31, 1997, three months before the July 1, 1997, handover of the British colony.

Many of the longest-serving soldiers in the unit were given full British nationality, the South China Morning Post reported. Many of them will leave Hong Kong before the handover because of concerns their association with the colonial army might be held against them, the newspaper said.

Hong Kong soldiers have served in the British army since the 1880s, when they were employed to build barracks and defense works.

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