As Hong Kong celebrated the 15th anniversary of its return to China, a spectacular fireworks display was seen over the Victoria Harbor. On the same day, thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered.
The incredible display was sponsored by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and lasted a full 23 minutes, beginning at 20:00. Large crowds of people were there to view the event.
In July 1, 1997, a handover ceremony was held to mark China's sovereignty over Hong Kong. Fifteen years later, people are still unhappy about this.
As reported on Digital Journal, on the same day that the celebrations were happening, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered on the streets to protest the 15th anniversary of Chinese rule.
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the city earlier in the day to swear in businessman Leung Chun-ying as the new leader of the territory. Leung, a police officer's son, replaces career bureaucrat Tsang, who took office in 2005 and is barred from another term. Estimates vary, but between 65,000 and 400,000 people gathered to protest the mounting real estate prices and growing social gap.
Beijing has a "one country, two systems" policy with Hong Kong, which allows residents more political freedoms than on the Chinese mainland. However, the protesters are complaining that Hong Kong authorities loyal to Beijing only elect candidates chosen by the state. Hong Kong's 3.4 million registered voters, who can vote for neighborhood councilors and half of all lawmakers, had no say in the matter.
Protesters say there is economic inequality in Hong Kong and they are against the behavior of wealthy mainland Chinese, who they say embark on flashy and expensive shopping sprees and have inflated property prices in the territory.
According to the New York Times, Juno Wu, 24, who is a librarian said, “We worry that as he becomes our leader, he will betray our freedoms and civil rights.”
However, a statement was issued by the Hong Kong government on Sunday evening stating that it would protect civil liberties, “The government will uphold the core values of Hong Kong and protect the freedom and rights of the people. The chief executive and his team will honor their pledge to hold themselves accountable to the people.”