July 1st: Hong Kong Independence Day

In China by Eller Student

Last weekend was a pretty big deal here in Hong Kong. On July 1st it was Hong Kong’s Independence Day where their ownership was transferred back from the British lease and allowed Hong Kong to become its own Special Administrative Region (SAR). For July 1st each year there is a large firework display where fireworks are launched from the Hong Kong Harbour and the whole city can see. The firework display lasts 30 minutes and they spend $5 million to put on one of the best firework shows I have seen. The streets that are normally crowded with cars were empty and millions of people walked towards the water to try to get the best view. We went as a group and got a pretty good view from the Hong Kong Island side. It started at 8 p.m. and the Avenue of Stars was going on at the same time so you could see the light show that occurs every night shining through the fireworks smoke.

Besides the fireworks, July 1st has become a day of protest because Hong Kong has a 50 year transition period until it becomes fully part of the Peoples Republic of China and loses its self identity. The President of China Hu Jintao was in Hong Kong for the day and people were not happy about it. Many people are upset about this for a number of reasons. Many people were protesting because they do not want to be oppressed by the Chinese government and were carrying banners and posters about the infamous incident at Tiananmen Square. Other people want to continue their independence because the business is so prosperous here and they do not want that to change. Hong Kongers like the unique identity they have created and would like to keep it that way but they have 35 years to figure out what will happen. We got to see some of the protests and learn about the issues that the people have which was a unique experience.