From the Archives
China Resumes Control of Hong Kong, Concluding 156 Years of British Rule
It’s Handover Day in Hong Kong, which means it’s also time for the annual protest calling for universal suffrage and the preservation of civil liberties under Chinese rule. July 1, which marks the former colony’s transfer from Britain to China in 1997, has served as the backdrop of protests, originally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front. It has since become an annual event that carries multiple demands and themes — some political, some not.
The turnout for this year’s march is expected to be low, despite last year’s pro-democracy demonstrations that led to the Occupy Central protests.
Attendance at the march on the July 1 holiday — officially called Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day — hit its peak in 2003, when the Hong Kong government attempted to implement Basic Law Article 23, or the National Security Ordinance, which reads:
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.
The 2003 rally drew an estimated 500,000 marchers to protest the vaguely written law that opponents said aimed to restrict free speech. It became the largest turnout, second only to the 1989 demonstrations in Hong Kong to protest the Tiananmen crackdown.
With the 2014 protests behind us and the vote for the chief executive two years away, we asked demonstrators how they see the future of Hong Kong and why they came out today.
Tsang Fuk-ching, 15, says an elected government will improve secondary school education. “The gov pressures us.” http://t.co/ycKZlcWPrf
Yau May-kwong says he wishes Hong Kong peace on the Handover Day and gov should focus next on livelihood issues http://t.co/2UcoVNfgDQ
Eric Fong, 57, wants “reunification” with the UK. “Chinese democracy will never be as good as UK or US democracy” http://t.co/NxS6r19uxE
Joe Tsang, a civil servant, said: “If we don’t protest today, the day when we can no longer do it may not be far.” http://t.co/9IUqyKFlku
Eddie Wong, a 48-year-old banker, said: “I think the protests are a waste of time. Beijing has its own plan. It’s out of our power.”
The police said the peak number of marchers was 19,650 (with 6,420 departing from Victoria Park). Organizer said 48,000. Lowest since 2007.