Visit to war cemetery part of programme for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Hong Kong visit
He is in the city as part of an official visit to China, and will meet with prominent figures such as Li Ka-shing and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in the early hours of Tuesday morning to kick-start his official two-day visit of Hong Kong following the G20 summit of world leaders in Hangzhou.
On the first day of engagements, Trudeau paid respect to fallen soldiers buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Sai Wan War Cemetery in Chai Wan, the military burial ground for the majority of Commonwealth and Allied troops.
Trudeau then met with Hong Kong’s wealthiest man Li Ka-shing and son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, and at lunchtime, was entertained by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The Canadian leader was received by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying later in the afternoon.
The wreath laying ceremony in the morning proceeded despite much of the cemetery being waterlogged from heavy rain.
Trudeau greeted a collective of veterans including 96-year-old Peter Choi, chairman of the World War II Veterans Association, and together they stood for the distinctive bugle sounds of the Last Post – a cavalry trumpet call used to commemorate those killed in war.
At the wall engraved with the names of 283 soldiers who fought for the Canadian army and died in defence of Hong Kong, Trudeau laid a wreath and stood with his head bowed for a minute, brushing his palm across the wall to show gratitude to the fallen.
In a message for the war dead, Trudeau said: “We remember the sacrifice and service of so many who stood and fell for our shared values, so far from home. Nous nous souvenons. (French for ‘we remember’)”
The prime minister later went to the end of the cemetery for a private look away from the majority of the guests and press pack.
Susan Fong, 41, a Canadian who is in Hong Kong as part of a three-month backpacking tour with her family, managed to get a photo taken with Trudeau before he left the site.
Fong was joined by her husband Kevin, 37, and children Lucas, 8, Aidan, 5, and Josie, 3.
She said: “The cemetery in Hong Kong is part of Canadian heritage and that’s why we wanted to come. It’s a part of history where wars have been fought overseas and Canadians have participated. This is the place where people who have fought to protect the land are buried, and you have to be very respectful.
“Especially for our eldest, it’s been nice to experience a piece of Canada outside of Canada.”
On her family’s photo opportunity with Trudeau amid the heavy security presence, Fong said: “[Our children] have lived overseas their whole lives. We all see ourselves as Canadian, and we wanted to give ourselves an opportunity to see a part of Canada, see [our] leader. Even in Canada it’s not an opportunity you get often.”
Trudeau will fly back to Canada on Wednesday.