Hong Kong celebrates 10 years of Chinese rule
HONG KONG: Hong Kong on Sunday celebrated 10 years under
Chinese rule with pomp and circumstance, but pro-democracy campaigners
were set to spoil the party with a call for sweeping political reform.
The cityâ€™s chief executive Donald Tsang and his new cabinet were due
to be sworn in before Chinese President Hu Jintao at the start of a
jam-packed day of events to mark the anniversary of the handover of the
former British colony.
But in stark contrast to July 1, 1997 â€” when the last colonial
governor Chris Patten, Prince Charles and then prime minister Tony Blair
were on hand â€” no high-ranking British officials have been invited to
On that day, British dignitaries sailed out of Victoria Harbour in
driving rain, ending 155 years of British rule over Hong Kong and
launching a new era for the city as a Chinese territory.
The celebrations began Sunday with a flag-raising ceremony to the
sound of the national anthem, played by a police band.
Around 1,000 people, including Tsang in his trademark bow tie, former
chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and British Consul-General Stephen Bradley
looked on as the five-starred red Chinese flag went up beside Hong
Kongâ€™s red and white flag.
The sun briefly broke through the clouds during the morning ceremony,
but forecasters warned of rain later in the day, in a repeat of the
weather conditions that marked handover celebrations 10 years ago.
Later in the morning Hu was due to preside over a swearing-in
ceremony for Tsang, who is set to begin a new five-year term in office,
in the presence of thousands of guests.
Tsang, a 63-year-old former civil servant, was awarded a fresh term
as chief executive in March after securing the overwhelming support of
an election committee of 800 mainly Beijing loyalists.
Since the handover, activists have been calling for full democracy in
the city, where citizens do not have the right to choose their own
leaders and only half the 60-member legislature is directly elected.
Hu will miss the rally, as he is scheduled to preside over the
opening of a new crossing that links the territory with the Chinese
boomtown of Shenzhen before heading back to Beijing.
The day of celebrations was to end with a colourful fireworks display
over Victoria Harbour, with the words â€śChinese peopleâ€ť spelled out in