On the day before the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the UK, Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po published a story that quotes Guangdong residents who support a strong Hong Kong-mainland relationship despite conflicts in recent months over issues ranging from ill-behaved mainland tourists to the city’s chief executive election in 2017.
“Hong Kong residents’ passion to celebrate the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China has never stopped. Many Hong Kong residents and their mainland counterparts can’t hold back their feelings of excitement for this historical moment,” the newspaper said, dismissive that public opinions in this capitalist enclave are running sour towards Beijing.
However, other sources tell a different story. The SCMP reports that Hong Kongers’ mistrust toward mainland China is at a record high according to a survey by the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University. Furthermore, a telephone survey by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion program found that the number of local residents dissatisfied with Beijing’s policies towards to the city is also at an all-time high.
Despite the city’s seething discontent with the mainland, the interviewees who talked to Wen Wei Po all happened to be unanimous in their happiness with the current HK-mainland relationship.
As reported by Wen Wei Po, a tourist from Guangzhou said that Hong Kong and mainland China have gradually blended together. After 17 years, “it feels like the two sides have grown to know each other very well,” said the tourist.
A 15 year-old in Shenzhen said that he was disappointed that he couldn’t travel to Hong Kong to see the flag raising ceremony this year due to upcoming exams, but he promised he would come back in time for next year’s celebrations.
However, if this student was able to make it, he would probably be baffled by an unexpected sight. Five-hundred thousand people are expected to march from Victoria Park to Central today at 3pm; if the number is correct, it would be the most people to joint he march since 2003.
The July 1 March has become a traditional event held each year for Hong Kongers to protest Beijing’s control over the city and other grievances.
This year’s march could draw an even higher turnout as tensions have risen after Beijing asserted its ”comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong in a published “white paper”. Earlier last week, more than 800,000 local residents voted in an unofficial poll on electoral reform in defiance of Beijing’s stance.