According to Wikipedia, armed forces personnel are prevented from voting in Hong Kong elections:

Any Hong Kong permanent resident aged 18 or above may register as an elector in the geographical constituency in which he/she resides, except those mentally incapacitated and those serving in an armed force.

What are the reasons behind their ineligibility?

2 Answers 2


Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China and does not have its own armed forces. Its military defence is currently the responsibility of a garrison of the PLA, inspiringly named the PLA Hong Kong Garrison. Members of the garrison are Chinese nationals, not Hong Kong nationals, and thus understandably ineligible to vote in Hong Kong elections.

  • 1
    Are they the only Chinese nationals that are considered permanent residents in Hong Kong?
    – lins314159
    Dec 5, 2012 at 9:07
  • @lins314159 Probably not, but other Chinese nationals wouldn't be allowed to vote in elections as well. I think the special mention to the armed forces in Wikipedia is just because of the peculiarity of Hong Kong not having its own military. Even prior to 1997 (when China assumed control), its military defence was backed by the British.
    – yannis
    Dec 5, 2012 at 9:11
  • 1
    @lins314159 Correcting my earlier comment: It seems that Chinese nationals with permanent residency in Hong Kong are allowed to vote, which kinda makes this a bit more complex than I initially thought.
    – yannis
    Dec 5, 2012 at 10:30
  • @YannisRizos why do you say more complex? I'd say it's simpler instead: you resite in HK, you are not military or insane --> you vote. How could it be any simpler?
    – o0'.
    Mar 10, 2014 at 19:05
  • I'm not sure that Hong Kong nationality exists as a concept any more - fairly sure most Hong Kongers are Chinese nationals with HK permanent residency.
    – ajd
    Apr 13, 2015 at 16:50

Presumably, it's to prevent the army from influencing the political process at the behest of the “Central People's Government” or from gaining control of the region's institutions by having members of the military elected to important positions. For example, one concern would be that soldiers could be ordered to support specific candidates and vote as a block.

This type of restrictions is not unusual in countries with a history of coups or other type of involvement of the military in politics like Turkey, Indonesia, or Brazil but it's not entirely uncontroversial either. Historically, similar regulations also existed in some Western European countries like France (until 1945 in that particular case), where, to this day, active soldiers cannot be members of a political party.

It would also seem particularly important given Hong Kong's peculiar situation within the “one country, two systems” framework. Hong Kong institutions were designed to provide some guarantees against interference from a central government operating under completely different principles than the local institutions. In this context, the role of the army, which is controlled by the central government, is particularly sensitive.

Similarly, the central government cannot simply “send” people to Hong Kong, the local institutions control who can or cannot become a resident and the issue has sometimes been contentious. PRC soldiers on the other hand are selected and trained by the central government.

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