The Changeover of Hong Kong from British Colony to Chinese HKSAR—-The First of July

The Changeover of Hong Kong from British Colony to Chinese HKSAR—The First of July

I still remember how Mr Chris Patten, the then Governor of Hong Kong, stood in the rain and got soaked through; his wet hair spread on his forehead, water dripping down on his face, as if tears were pouring down…Indeed he was saddened, but it only had little to do with the rain.

1404177151__38691837_hongkong_nonspec_238 (1)

That was at the changeover ceremony, on the first of July,1997, in Hong Kong, when quite innocently the 6 million or so Hong Kong Chinese people were being transformed from being British to being Chinese. And truly Chinese they became, on one historical day.

After much discussion and negotiation between the British government and the Chinese Communist Party, both countries finally worked out a solution to deal with the consequences of the so-called unequal treaties resulted from the 19th century battles. Hong Kong, the British colony, was to be reverted to China on the first of July in 1997. When the news came, I and many of my friends suddenly realised that after all we were Chinese, though we were educated in the British system and felt British-inclined. To embrace Red China as our fatherland and accept being Chinese became a subtle challenge. Well, we were young and ignorant. We didn’t know the much damaged lion would one day wake up and be strong. That was in the 1980s, the beginning of China’s massive volatile economic movements. No one knew for sure what would happen to China, but everyone was shocked by the brutal crushing of the Chinese student movement in 1989. Then came 1997, those who still lived in Hong Kong had already come to terms with whatever their destiny. Those who had created new homes elsewhere watched the changeover with ambivalent feelings. Can Hong Kong still thrive? Will there be another Tiannamen Massacre? They all wondered.

Now in 2014, seventeen years later, we praise the resilience of the Hong Kong people and admire Deng’s innovative “One Country Two Systems” solution for the former British colony. It is far from perfect for those democratic-minded people in Hong Kong, but we cannot deny how pragmatic it has been to deal with sensitive political and economic issues and the Basic Law guarantees 50 years of self-administration status for Hong Kong. But then, there is still the question: What will happen to China and Hong Kong after 2047?

But the ‘Two Systems’ have generated a number of conflicting views, and lately people have come up with different interpretations of what constitutes ‘self-administration’ for Hong Kong. Demands for more political independence continue to be on top of the agenda for many.

 The first of July is a reminder of Hong Kong’s transformation; but not only that, it also signifies what impacts historical events have on individuals. Many of the Hong Kong people have become citizens of other countries, and looking back, most of us are still puzzled by the decisions they made because of the first of July in 1997.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *