Hong Kong is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of the territory from the UK to China. The moment will bring thousands on to the streets – some to celebrate and others to protest. Here the Guardian asks six Hong Kong residents about their memories of 1997 and their thoughts on the city’s future.
Yau Wai-ching, disqualified lawmaker
Hong Kong people have been forced to pay for a deceit.
At midnight on 30 June 1997, I remember a heavy rain and my eyes nearly closing, almost falling asleep. But I didn’t. I was forced to concentrate on my parent’s old television screen, watching two flags: one was the flag of United Kingdom, the other was China’s. I tried to ask my mom about what was happening on that screen, but I could not understand, except for the one phrase that I learned that evening: handover.
Nothing changed the next day. In my world as a six-year-old I was waiting till September when I would become a primary 1 student. My parents said the handover meant nothing to them as they still had to work and pay taxes. Everything seemed to remain unchanged, exactly what the Chinese government promised to the Hong Kong people.
But then year by year, Cantonese began to be replaced by Mandarin, our constitutional laws made in the 1980s have been amended and “interpreted” by the Chinese government, and values among Hong Kongers changed after an influx of more than a million immigrants from China since 1997. Those mainlanders have come to dominate much of the social atmosphere. Locals are now always blamed as discriminating against those new immigrants if we ever expressed a different viewpoint and sometimes we are even slandered as fascists or racists.
In these past 20 years, Hong Kongers still believe in law and justice, fairness and democracy, but we no longer believe in the system and rules created by the Chinese government. Instead of becoming more like Hong Kong, the Chinese government will use any type of propaganda or immigration policy to make us more like them.
We have started to realise that the United Kingdom and China signed a treaty in 1984 that was supposed to protect Hong Kong, but it has turned out to be a deception and a joke. Since the handover all Hong Kong people have been forced to pay for that deceit.
Holden Chow, pro-establishment lawmaker
Hong Kong is part of China and we are Chinese: this is a fact and never in dispute.
I was in UK back in 1997 doing my A-levels, and I returned to Hong Kong before 1 July to witness the handover ceremony. As a patriot, I was always happy to see the handover and the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. I believe the “one country, two systems” works well: Hong Kong indeed has been able to sustain prosperity and with the full support from central government, we even have survived global economic crisis.
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