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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 06/98: Hong Kong Handover Anniversary  
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Hong Kong Handover Anniversary Tuesday, 30 June, 1998, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
In Hong Kong, life goes on
Neil Taylor graphic

For Neil Taylor, life in Hong Kong goes on as usual. Born in England, Mr Taylor first went to Hong Kong in 1973. Mr Taylor, 31, has worked as an inspector for the Hong Kong Police for the last 10 years. In 1994, he was naturalised and became a permanent resident.

Once July 1 was in the history books, it was nice to see the world press leave Hong Kong. They were, in my opinion, hoping for some trouble or something negative to write about. I remember getting some phone calls from worried friends in the run up to the actual handover after they had read some stories about an early arrival (invasion) of Chinese Troops that had been misreported in the UK press.

To date, apart from the odd minor traffic accident with other road users, the Chinese troops keep themselves to themselves. They can't afford to go out to Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong (the main bar areas) to get drunk and fight like their squaddie predecessors did!

A doom-and-gloom picture about a crackdown on democracy was also painted. But one year on, those fears have not materialised. In some ways the Asian currency turmoil and economic recession has taken the heat off politics. We have also had a few health scares to keep our minds occupied - the Bird Flu scare, fish (red-tides), beef, and pork.

On May 24, we elected our Legislative Council, replacing the one installed by China on July 1. There was a record turnout, despite the torrential rain (The last time it rained that hard was during the actual handover period. We thought the heavens might be telling us something!). A number of familiar old faces returned refreshed from their enforced break from the political scene.

My route to work on the mini-bus takes me past Government House each day. It took a few months to get used to not seeing the Union Jack flying or the lights on in the building at night. As the last resident of that grand old house said "Hong Kong is a Chinese city with British characteristics". It still does not feel like a part of China.

In fact, the only time I am reminded that we are part of China is when I see the large red PRC flags flying when you arrive at the airport and other entry points into Hong Kong. I was just about to call it the Territory...instead of the politically correct SAR - Special Administration Region. Others also forget. The weather girls still occasionally refer to the Royal Observatory and Territory.

Life hasn't changed at all.The UK has had more changes with the Labour Government than the Chinese Government has made to Hong Kong (ie none).

Britain gracefully and ceremoniously left this superb city, after giving the local people the know-how and ability to look after the place for themselves. Although Chris Patten was rejected by 60,000 constituents of Bath and given to the six million in Hong Kong, he did a tremendous job here. The Hong Kong people would be astounded if he was not the next Mayor of London.

Ties have not been completely severed and there will always be an emotional bond between the people of Hong Kong and Britain. This was shown to me by some of my closest colleagues when they grieved for Princess Diana. Some are supporting England in the World Cup.

I hope Hong Kong will provide a role model for the rest of China to follow and lead China to become the next great world power house in the years to come.

Links to more Hong Kong Handover Anniversary stories are at the foot of the page.


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