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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BEIJING4460
2007-07-03 17:15:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Beijing
Cable title:  

CHINA CELEBRATES HONG KONG REVERSION ANNIVERSARY

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  CH 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2684
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #4460/01 1841715
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 031715Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9566
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 004460 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/03/2032
TAGS: PGOV PREL CH
SUBJECT: CHINA CELEBRATES HONG KONG REVERSION ANNIVERSARY
AMID MEDIA BLITZ, PUBLIC INDIFFERENCE

REF: A. FBIS CPP20070702706017


B. HONG KONG 1777

Classified By: Acting Political Internal Unit Chief
Dan Kritenbrink. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 004460

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/03/2032
TAGS: PGOV PREL CH
SUBJECT: CHINA CELEBRATES HONG KONG REVERSION ANNIVERSARY
AMID MEDIA BLITZ, PUBLIC INDIFFERENCE

REF: A. FBIS CPP20070702706017


B. HONG KONG 1777

Classified By: Acting Political Internal Unit Chief
Dan Kritenbrink. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


Summary
--------------


1. (C) China celebrated the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's
reversion on July 1 amid an all-out media blitz, with
official press providing round-the-clock coverage of
President Hu Jintao's travel to Hong Kong for the official
commemoration ceremonies. PRC media lauded the success of
the one country two systems formula and touted Hong Kong's
progress since reversion, while steering clear of political
issues such as universal suffrage and pro-democracy
demonstrations. Despite the media-generated hoopla, many
Beijing residents appear neither to care nor know much about
Hong Kong. Problems like universal suffrage in Hong Kong
pale in comparison to the challenges faced by PRC residents
elsewhere, one contact argued, noting that he had little
sympathy for Hong Kong on that score. For other Mainland
intellectuals, Hong Kong remains a symbol, albeit an
imperfect one, of the autonomy and freedoms they hope someday
might spread to other parts of China. All contacts agreed
that the one country two systems formula has so far
succeeded, despite dire predictions of Hong Kong's demise at
the time of reversion. End Summary.

Celebrating Hong Kong's Reversion: PRC Media Blitz
-------------- --------------


2. (C) China this past week greeted the 10th anniversary of
Hong Kong's reversion to the PRC with an all-out media blitz
trumpeting the success of the one country two systems
formula. Several weeks' worth of media attention culminated
in the round-the-clock coverage of President Hu Jintao's
travel to Hong Kong June 29 - July 1 for the official
commemoration ceremonies. Hu's visit and the reversion
anniversary were given top play in all of China's official
print media, with, for example, the Party mouthpiece People's
Daily leading with that story for three days straight
beginning on June 29, issuing a separate special edition on

Hong Kong on July 1. Most Mainland magazines over the past
several weeks have had Hong Kong cover stories. Television
coverage of Hu's visit, much of it live, was equally as
thorough. The Hong Kong reversion ceremonies are a "huge
event" for China, and the saturation reporting of the
anniversary is "unprecedented," Professor Sun Keqin
(protect), Director of the Center for Hong Kong and Macau
Affairs at the China Institutes of Contemporary International
Relations (CICIR), told Poloff on July 2.


3. (C) The extensive media coverage was part of a campaign to
tout Hong Kong's development under 10 years of PRC rule and
play up feelings of national pride, while avoiding
politically sensitive subjects. According to Zhou Qingan
(strictly protect), free lance journalist and Professor at
Qinghua University, China's propaganda department issued
media guidelines that said reporting on the event should not
contain anything about direct elections or political
protests, but instead should focus on Hong Kong's great
progress under the one country two systems formula and the
fact that doomsayers from a decade ago have been proven
wrong. A representative example of the results of that
guidance was a June 29 Global Times piece that highlighted
the 1995 Fortune magazine cover story entitled, "The Death of
Hong Kong," as proof of how wrong such dire predictions were
about Hong Kong's future. In contrast, the article pointed
out, Time magazine's assessment of Hong Kong's future this
year was "sunshine, with clouds." President Hu Jintao
himself stressed the theme of the success of the one country
two systems formula during his speech at the July 1
commemoration and inauguration ceremony for the Hong Kong
Chief Executive and his cabinet (Refs A and B).

Public Indifference
--------------


4. (C) Despite the media-generated hoopla, most Beijing
residents appear neither to care nor know much about Hong
Kong. Wang Wen (protect), reporter at the Global Times,
conceded that the Chinese public has been very "passive" and
"apathetic" regarding the reversion story, though people
could not help but be aware of the event, given the non-stop
media bombardment. Hong Kong was a big story 10 years ago,
but today, PRC residents have much more important things to
worry about, according to Chang Shaoyang (protect), Deputy
Editor at the Legal Daily. Problems like universal suffrage

BEIJING 00004460 002 OF 002


in Hong Kong pale in comparison to the challenges faced by
Chinese residents elsewhere, he argued, noting that he had
little sympathy for Hong Kong on that score. Summing up
public attitudes on the reversion story, Fang Jinyu, bureau
chief for the Guangdong Party Committee paper Southern Daily,
told Poloff that ordinary people are not paying much
attention to the reversion commemoration and are ignorant of
the issues at play in Hong Kong, in part because of the
restrictions on the Mainland's media coverage of Hong Kong
over the past decade.

Hong Kong as Symbol
--------------


5. (C) At a minimum, the experience of the past decade
demonstrates the success of the one country two systems
formula, all of our contacts said. For some, this success is
a source of pride, symbolizing China's recovery from its
"century of humiliation." CICIR's Professor Sun argued that
many Chinese were moved a decade ago to see China
"reunified," correcting the wrong of Hong Kong's having been
"stolen" during the 19th century. Some Chinese are now
equally as proud to see that Hong Kong has been ruled well by
the PRC since 1997. Wen of Global Times thought Chinese
leaders want to use Hong Kong's success to symbolize the
PRC's trustworthiness as a responsible nation that has kept
its promises under one country two systems. On the other
hand, Professor Sun stated, most Chinese probably view Hong
Kong simply as a symbol of wealth and development, a tourist
mecca where people go to play and shop. Regardless, all
Chinese want to see Hong Kong succeed.


6. (C) Hong Kong also serves as a symbol, albeit an imperfect
one, of local autonomy and personal freedoms, Wen argued.
For some PRC leaders, this is a serious concern. China is
unlikely to allow Hong Kong to have universal suffrage soon,
or permit PRC papers to report n the issue, because China
fears a "domino effect" that could spread the demand for
voting rights across the rest of China, Wen asserted. As
Fang Jinyu put it, the fear is that people will ask, "If Hong
Kong can elect its chief executive, why can't Beijing elect
its mayor?" Some Chinese intellectuals nevertheless continue
to believe that Hong Kong's unique status may yet influence
the expansion of local autonomy to other parts of China,
according to Professor Yang Yusheng (protect) of the Chinese
University of Politics and Law. As long as Hong Kong can
preserve, and hopefully expand, its autonomy and the freedoms
it enjoys as a result, Yang said, it will continue to provide
hope to those who are advocating reforms designed to increase
the rights of those at the grass roots level across China.
RANDT