China’s People’s Liberation Army may soon accept recruits from Hong Kong, Macau and even Taiwan, according to a spokesman from the defense ministry.

“Over the years we have heard calls from some Hongkongers and Taiwanese willing to sign up and contribute to the country’s defense,” Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s defense ministry, said on Friday.

He said the ministry recognized the patriotism displayed by some people and would look into possible options. He added that since Hong Kong’s return to China, residents of the special administrative region had developed a better understanding of the nation and its army.

He said there were also a number of Taiwanese living on the mainland who wanted to join the army.

The prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing already made it compulsory for freshmen from Hong Kong and Macau to attend military training and refresher courses alongside students from elsewhere across China, although that was still optional for students from Taiwan.

In 2011 Wang Guangya, the then director of the Chinese State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said that one day it would be possible for young patriots and military buffs from Hong Kong and Macau to join the PLA or become diplomats.

However, some observers believe new recruits from Hong Kong would be confined to the barracks of the PLA’s garrison in the city rather than enter the mainland. The PLA has been holding summer cadet military camps for Hong Kong youngster for years with an increasing number of sign-ups.

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Hong Kong youngsters at a military cadet course organized by the PLA. Photo: China News Services

One drawback, however, is that Taipei may impose severe penalties, including charges of treason, on anyone wanting to join China’s army. These is still a lot of tension between the two militaries on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau has released the template for a new residency permit, a lookalike of the national identity cards issued to mainland Chinese with a holographic image of the Great Wall on the front as the backdrop and the Chinese national emblem in the upper left corner.

The new permit will give Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan people living on the mainland better access to public services there.