Hong Kong 20 Years After.
Hong Kong is marking 20 years since the territory was handed from Britain to China, bringing an end to more than 150 years of colonial rule. When the Chinese flag was raised over the city on 1 July, 1997, Hong Kong was not entirely integrated with the rest of mainland China. It maintained many institutions established during colonial rule – an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and a separate legislature – under a framework known as “one country, two systems”. At the handover ceremony 20 years ago, Prince Charles and the then-prime minister Tony Blair travelled to the city to mark the transfer of sovereignty, something that struck the prince as deeply sad. In a diary he kept during his time in Hong Kong that was later leaked, he referred to the Chinese leadership as a “group of appalling old waxworks”. According his account, then Chinese president Jiang Zemin “gave a kind of ‘propaganda’ speech, which was loudly cheered by the bussed in party faithful at the suitable moment in the text. At the end of this awful Soviet-style display we had to watch the Chinese soldiers goose step on to the stage.” At the end of the ceremony, Prince Charles and the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, sailed away on the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned later that year. Hong Kong has seen rapid changes in the 20 years under Chinese rule. The city’s government, along with Chinese officials, have pushed for closer links with the mainland through massive infrastructure projects, changes in education and deeper business ties.
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