Some Hongkongers choose flags, dancing and music to mark handover
Don't rock the boat, C. Y. Leung says at reception as handover celebrations draw thousands
While hundreds of thousands took to the streets yesterday to express their opposition to the government, others attended handover celebrations, concerts and dance events. Some took advantage of discounts to go shopping.
As marchers were preparing to converge on Victoria Park in the morning, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said at an official reception following a flag-raising ceremony at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre that the city's residents should avoid doing anything that might damage the city's "prosperity and stability".
In Tamar Park, Admiralty, people attending a handover celebration said they did not support the march or the Occupy Central movement, but a few said they would join the march to observe both sides.
"Our society is becoming more and more polarised. I want to go and take a look at both sides before I reach a conclusion," said Felix Lee, 25, a clerk who went with three friends to the Tamar celebration. He said he had no particular political stance.
A 65-year-old retiree was there with his wife for a similar reason. "There are so many extremists organising protests this year. That's why I wanted to come out and have a look. I'm going to attend both sides," he said.
The ceremony at Tamar was one of 200 citywide or district-based handover celebration activities. Organisers claimed 500,000 people had taken part in the 150 events held yesterday.
They included a street dance competition on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
The Hong Kong Dome Festival concert was held for the second time at the former Kai Tak airport runway, featuring Korean singers and bands like BoA and Super Junior-M. Thousands queued from early yesterday to get into the event.
Also to mark the handover anniversary, about 3,000 shops are offering discounts until July 28.
At the Tamar Park celebrations, Maggie Cheuk, 35, an accountant with a six-year-old son, said: "I come every year with my parents and child. I want my son to know that July 1 is the handover anniversary. I think this is a day worth celebrating."
Two schoolgirls said they went to the ceremony to see the band Birds of Paradise. They said they were unhappy with the government but felt that marching may not be helpful.
"It's useless, the government won't listen anyway," said one of them, Tweety Hung, a Form Three student.
Mandy Chau, 50, said she would not take part in the rally because she is not a radical person, but she said she believed peaceful protests are acceptable.
"Things are very chaotic these days. The pro-government and pro-establishment camps are in fierce confrontation, making it difficult for the government to put forward anything," she said. "I can't really see a future and I'm very worried."
At a reception in Wan Chai after the flag-raising ceremony, the city's chief executive gave a positive assessment of the state of Hong Kong, saying that income levels among the city's poorest residents were on the rise and home prices and rents were "under control".
"At present, there is mild economic growth and people's employment is not a problem," Leung said.
"The income of people are the grass roots are [increasing], prices are stable … the government has a financial surplus," Leung said.
"This scenario needs to be defended by everyone, who should avoid doing anything that affects Hong Kong's stability and damages Hong Kong's prosperity."