2012-06-27   Memories of July 1, 1997

The first thing I remember about July 1, 1997, is how it had different names in Chinese and English. In Chinese it was called "the handback of Hong Kong to China". In English it was called "the handover of Hong Kong to China".  Obviously "handover" should have been "handback", since what happened was the return of something that had been taken!
"Handover" avoided admitting that something had been taken.

I also remember the animosity between the UK and China at the time.
The ill-feeling had become childish when Governor Chris Patten did not go to the old Kai Tak Airport to welcome President Jiang Zemin on the afternoon of June 30. In fact Chris Patten seemed for some years to antagonise China unnecessarily.  For example he would always use the name "Peking" instead of "Beijing". And he introduced last-minute democratic reforms that were never deemed necessary under British administration.

Maybe Chris Patten was following orders from London, for I remember hearing a HK British official say in 1985 that "we're going to put democratic reforms in place that will force China to allow democracy in HK". Trouble was, those reforms were not in the Basic Law which had been agreed to by both China and the UK.  China responded by dismantling those reforms as soon as it took over HK.  This caused Madeileine Albright, US Secretary of State who didn't know much about the Basic Law, to boycott some of the July I ceremonies