Hongkongers turn out in their thousands

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 October, 2009, 12:00am

Hongkongers turned out in their hundreds of thousands to celebrate the 60th anniversary by viewing the harbour fireworks display and attending the flag-raising ceremony.

An estimated 350,000 packed both sides of Victoria Harbour last night to view the fireworks.

The HK$3 million, 23-minute display featured a series of scenes on patriotic themes in bursts of colour, and the Chinese characters for 'China 60' sparkled 60 times over the harbour. It comprised nine acts using 31,888 fireworks, each of the acts on a theme, such as 'the pride of China', 'blossoming lotus', 'pearl of the Orient' and 'the Hong Kong spirit'.

But not everyone watching realised that 'China 60' had flashed 60 times in the night sky. Student Bob Tang, 23, said: 'I enjoyed the show, especially the symbolic 'China 60', although it wasn't clear. I once thought I was looking at stars.'

British tourist Nigel Sacree said: 'It was a brilliant show. I didn't understand the Chinese words, but I could feel what it was about.'

In the morning, more than 2,500 guests and spectators crowded into Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai for the flag-raising ceremony.

Speaking at a National Day reception after the flag-raising, acting chief executive Wong Yan-lung said Hong Kong had to consolidate and give full play to its unique strengths while exploring opportunities arising from reunification with the mainland.

'Taking advantage of our city's cosmopolitan nature, we will continue to support our nation's efforts in promoting greater collaboration with our neighbours in the region as well as with the broader international community,' he said.

The mainland had been pursuing reform and opening policies for the past three decades, and Wong sought to stress Hong Kong's irreplaceable role during this process.

'With our deep pool of local and overseas talent, healthy supply of capital, robust legal system and vast international network together with excellent trading, financial and professional services, not only does Hong Kong provide a platform for China's integration with the rest of the world, it also serves as a model for the mainland to implement important reforms,' he said.

Thousands attended the National Day carnival on the Victoria Park soccer pitches. The event was organised by the Home Affairs Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

Meanwhile, nearly 600 people joined a march from Chater Garden in Central to the central government liaison office in Western, calling on Beijing to improve human rights conditions on the mainland and protect press freedom.

The protesters chanted slogans seeking vindication for those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and called for the building of a democratic China.

The protesters, dressed in black and holding roses tied with black ribbons, also called for protection of press freedom on the mainland.

Several members of the League of Social Democrats, carrying a black wooden coffin bearing slogans describing the central government as a 'butchers' regime', were involved in a scuffle with police who stopped their progress to the liaison office.

League vice-chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang and another member were arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers, while another two members were arrested for disorder in a public place after they were seen jumping onto the roof of a police vehicle.

They were bailed and must report to police on December 1.

All lit up

The cost of last night's National Day fireworks display staged over Victoria Harbour, in HK dollars: $3m


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