Hong Kong, July 1 (Reuters): Chinese President Hu Jintao swore in Hong Kong’s leader for a new term today and reminded the territory that the motherland comes first as the city embarked upon its second decade under Beijing’s rule.
Many Hong Kongers celebrated the anniversary of the territory’s 1997 return to Chinese rule today, watching People’s Liberation Army parachutists perform stunt jumps, viewing a parade, and making plans to watch fireworks later.
But the mood was not entirely joyous and in the afternoon thousands of people surged through downtown streets in an annual democracy protest march, waving banners and shouting slogans, like “One man one vote”.
When Britain returned Hong Kong to communist China on July 1, 1997, many feared the rights and freedoms enjoyed here would erode, despite the Beijing government’s guarantees of sweeping autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula.
Those fears have since largely eased, and the city has thrived despite rocky patches, including the debilitating Sars epidemic and an economic slump.
“Compared to 10 years ago when no one knew what to expect, things are clearer and firmer now,” said bank employee Ada Yu, 36. “Reunification has mostly been a good thing.”