THE LENS­MAN RE­TURNS

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF HKSAR - By XU JINGXING in Hong Kong xu­jingx­ing@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong is as­so­ci­ated with the many mem­o­rable and re­mark­able mo­ments in my more than 30-year ca­reer as a pho­to­jour­nal­ist. In the past two decades, since Hong Kong’s re­turn to the moth­er­land, I’ve had sev­eral oc­ca­sions to ob­serve the city from up-close. While cer­tain things seem to have re­mained un­changed, such as fol­low­ing the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple, some oth­ers have moved for­ward in keep­ing with the city’s evo­lu­tion into a mod­ern, global metropo­lis.

I vis­ited Hong Kong for the first time in June 1997. I wit­nessed the his­toric mo­ment on the night of June 30, 1997, and recorded it on my film cam­era, cap­tur­ing the cer­e­mony at the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Hong Kong Gar­ri­son’s Cen­tral Bar­racks. On July 1, I was busy cov­er­ing var­i­ous events to mark the es­tab­lish­ment of the HKSAR. I car­ried a tele­photo lens and an alu­minum lad­der on my shoul­der, run­ning around all across the city. For a while I parked my­self in front of the gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters and then stood in a queue at the old site of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil. I also went to the stock ex­change in Cen­tral.

In the next two and a half years I cov­ered sev­eral im­por­tant events in Hong Kong. I was sent here to cap­ture the stock mar­ket crash dur­ing the 1997 Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis, and again to pho­to­graph the im­pact of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress’ in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Hong Kong’s Ba­sic Law re­gard­ing the right of abode case in 1999. I cov­ered the out­break of bird flu and many other break­ing news and so­cial events in the city.

I was trans­ferred back to the Chi­nese main­land in 2000 but Hong Kong was never far from my mind.

Now I am back in the city, cam­era in hand, wan­der­ing around, re­vis­it­ing the places I had last seen 17 years ago.

The old LegCo build­ing, which now houses the Court of Fi­nal Ap­peal, is still pop­u­lar with the Filipino do­mes­tic work­ers for their week­end gath­er­ings. I saw more free news­pa­pers at MTR sta­tions but fewer news­pa­per stands at the Star Ferry Pier. While many new stocks have ar­rived in the mar­ket, the trad­ing hall is smaller than be­fore with fewer traders vis­i­ble in ac­tion. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng In­dex has climbed from 16,000-some­thing points two decades ago to 25,000 points to­day.

The Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing’s prom­ise that the danc­ing and horse rac­ing will con­tinue in Hong Kong after 1997, un­der the “one coun­try, two sys­tem” prin­ci­ple and the Hong Kong Ba­sic Law, seems to have been hon­ored.

And did I for­get to add that many peo­ple I met on the street this time spoke flu­ent Man­darin?

Hong Kong to­day is in­deed a city full of ex­tra­or­di­nary vi­tal­ity. Its cur­rent pros­per­ity and op­ti­mism is owed to its in­ter­na­tional out­look, high en­ergy, de­ter­mi­na­tion and com­pet­i­tive spirit. Xu Jingxing is di­rec­tor of the Photo Depart­ment of China Daily.

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