HISTORY – The ‘Great Chinese Takeaway’ – the 1997 Handover 12


As the dust settles on this weekend’s celebrations and protests, it’s worth taking a look back at the 1997 Handover Day itself as nostalgia for the Brits hits an all-time high and distrust of the mainland sinks to an all-time low.

The climax of that rainy Monday was a ceremony at Tamar site as a bunch of old drug dealers gave way to a bunch of old fascists. In attendance were greasy Chinese president Jiang Zemin, smug new CE Tung Chee-hwa, a glum-faced Prince Charles, egg-tart munching last governor Chris Patten and freshly elected total bastard, Tony Blair (complete with hideous coat-hanger-mouthed wife)…

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The proceedings mostly went to plan with Patten leaving Government House at 4:30pm on June 30th before respective flags were lowered and raised at midnight. One minor hiccup was the entry of 500 troops into Hong Kong three hours early, which – of course – scared the living bejesus out of everyone…

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In 2005, it emerged that Charles had referred to the transfer as the ‘Great Chinese Takeaway‘ and the Chinese officials as ‘appalling old waxworks‘ (without irony). In other diary scrawled banter, he lamented the ‘awful soviet-style‘ performances, PLA goose-steps and Zemin’s ‘propaganda‘…

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During the late 90s, all public offices replaced their flags, the Queen’s portrait disappeared from postage stamps and offices, the ‘Royal’ title was dropped from almost all organisations, references to the ‘Crown’ were switched with the ‘State’, the British honours system was replaced by a local Grand Bauhinia Medal award, the holiday for the Queen’s birthday gave way for the Buddha’s Birthday holiday, Royal Mail pillar boxes were repainted and Hong Kong’s membership of the Commonwealth ended.

YouTube has a whole channel dedicated to Handover videos. Below are a few highlights.

Sky News, in full epic 90s glory, covered the daytime events…

The ceremony itself took place at 11pm in Admiralty (a longer version may be found here)…

Some other highlights of Chris Patten’s last day in the territory…

In 1999, a similar ceremony took place in neighbouring Macau as the Portugese handed over control to Beijing…

The colonial flag made its biggest ever return to the territory this weekend, as hundreds of protesters nostalgically wielded it at the annual pro-democracy demonstrations. Its reappearance is likely to be a provocative symbol designed to wind up communist robot Hu Jintao rather than a genuine desire for the return of Her Maj.


  • Harold

    There was another flag, created by the Hong Kong Autonomy Movement, based on the old colonial flag.  Their flag features the old Coat
    of Arms of Hong Kong against a blue ground.  New regimes often borrow symbols from an old regime to give themselves legitimacy, and what HK has lacked is a symbol of its own that supporters can rally around. 

    The HKAM defines their flag as follows:

    The Dragon in the Chinese tradition represents viability and
    flexibility, and Hong Kong keeps and guards the Chinese Civilisation.
    The Lion in the English tradition represents justice and bravery, and
    Hong Kong succeeds and magnify it. Hong Kongers are Sons of the Dragon
    and the Lion, and we inherit Chinese Civilisation and English
    Culture. The Dragon stands with the Lion on Hong Kong Land, and the
    shield they uphold represents the civilised Hong Kong. The fort on the
    shield represents the Hong Kong City-State, or Polis, crowned by the
    cultural legitimacy it inherits. The junk at sea represents the history
    of trade in Hong Kong, and also the enterprise of the seafarers. The
    Large Lion’s Crown represents the British Crown that once ruled Hong
    Kong, and the Little Lion with the Dragon’s Pearl represents the
    Sovereign of Hong Kong Polis. The Autonomy Movement keeps the Crowns to
    pass on the British traditions, and to stand and for the King, to magnify
    the King’s Way, to govern with Yan (?) and Righteousness(?).
     

  • Harold

    There was another flag, created by the Hong Kong Autonomy Movement, based on the old colonial flag.  Their flag features the old Coat
    of Arms of Hong Kong against a blue ground.  New regimes often borrow symbols from an old regime to give themselves legitimacy, and what HK has lacked is a symbol of its own that supporters can rally around. 

    The HKAM defines their flag as follows:

    The Dragon in the Chinese tradition represents viability and
    flexibility, and Hong Kong keeps and guards the Chinese Civilisation.
    The Lion in the English tradition represents justice and bravery, and
    Hong Kong succeeds and magnify it. Hong Kongers are Sons of the Dragon
    and the Lion, and we inherit Chinese Civilisation and English
    Culture. The Dragon stands with the Lion on Hong Kong Land, and the
    shield they uphold represents the civilised Hong Kong. The fort on the
    shield represents the Hong Kong City-State, or Polis, crowned by the
    cultural legitimacy it inherits. The junk at sea represents the history
    of trade in Hong Kong, and also the enterprise of the seafarers. The
    Large Lion’s Crown represents the British Crown that once ruled Hong
    Kong, and the Little Lion with the Dragon’s Pearl represents the
    Sovereign of Hong Kong Polis. The Autonomy Movement keeps the Crowns to
    pass on the British traditions, and to stand and for the King, to magnify
    the King’s Way, to govern with Yan (仁) and Righteousness(義).
     

  • Victor

    I want that flag….I don’t think i can get one. I wonder what would it be like for Hong Kong to still be under the british rule.

  • Victor

    I want that flag….I don’t think i can get one. I wonder what would it be like for Hong Kong to still be under the british rule.

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