JJuly 1, 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. The Silver Jubilee of Hong Kong’s transfer from Britain to China was celebrated in various ways, including light shows, film screenings, a flag-raising ceremony and boat parades.
For the occasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Hong Kong for two days – although he did not spend the night there – and spoke at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, praising “a countries, two systems” and stressful that there is “no reason to change such a good system” and that it “must be respected in the long term”. During the ceremony, former police officer John Lee was sworn in as Hong Kong’s new chief executive.
While Chinese state media describe the 25th anniversary as “festive” and “joyful”, Hong Kong Free Press wrote on “muted celebrations” and the event overshadowed by security coverage, media restrictions, Covid-19 concerns and a typhoon.
On Chinese social media site Weibo, the event was completely dominated by the official narrative, and Chinese state media publicized the 25th anniversary through various hashtags and posters online.
The hashtag “Blessed Hong Kong, Blessed Motherland” (#祝福香港祝福祖国#) was launched by CCTV and received over 189 million views. CCTV also released an online poster showing the Hong Kong skyline in issue 25.
A Publish by CCTV, including the online poster, received over 716,000 likes and over 95,000 comments – most of which included hearts and wishes to Hong Kong.
The hashtag “25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland” (#香港回归祖国25周年#) has received over 280 million views.
Chinese Youth Daily launched the hashtag “Hong Kong 25th Year Since Return to Motherland” (#香港回归祖国25载#), while People’s Daily released a song video in cooperation with China Mobile to celebrate the event (#香港回归25周年纪念曲祝福#) featuring singer Zhou Shen (周深).
State Media Xinhua also released a song dedicated to the 25th anniversary. Titled “Hello Hong Kong” (你好香港listen), the song features super popular mainland singer Wang Yibo (王一博). The video has been reposted over a million times.
People’s Daily too posted another message on July 1, at 00:00 sharp, writing: “If Hong Kong is [doing] Well the nation is [doing] good; when the nation is good, Hong Kong is even better” (“香港好，国家好；国家好，香港更好”).
The hashtag “Ensuring ‘one country, two systems’ is always going in the right direction” (#确保一国两制事业始终朝着正确的方向行稳致远#) was promoted by the People’s Daily Commentary account – and even pushed to the top of Weibo’s search listings – highlighting Hong Kong’s historic and future role in “the great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) released a lengthy message from the Ministry statement on Weibo condemning some of the international responses to the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, such as that of the White House about Pekingh eliminating “meaningful political opposition in Hong Kong and stifling dissent”.
According to the statement released by Zhao, these kinds of responses were merely attempts to “smear” China’s “one country, two systems” policy and merely aim to meddle in China’s internal affairs, in defiance of ” fundamental norms of international relations”.
There was also controversy online after Hong Kong singer and actor Jacky Cheung (张学友) clapped back on Hong Kong saying “Go Hong Kong!” [“香港加油!”] in a video celebrating the anniversary. Cheung has been criticized on Chinese social media for not mentioning the “motherland” and for only promoting “Hong Kong”, with people accusing him of not being patriotic enough. The video was later taken offline.
Jacky Cheung released a statement on July 3, specifying that he is patriotic and loves Hong Kong, and above all, that he is “proud to be Chinese”. This statement also became trending on Weibo (#张学友声明#), where many also said they found the online uproar over Cheung’s “Go Hong Kong” comment exaggerated and unnecessary.
Some commentators have wondered if all pop stars in Hong Kong and Taiwan need to repeat “I am Chinese” all the time to be politically correct, avoid controversy and avoid being accused of being a traitor. “It’s a bit lamentable to force Jacky Cheung to prove his innocence like this,” he added. blogger wrote.
According FreeWeibo.coma website monitoring what is censored on Weibo, many comments relating to “Hong Kong” have been censored in recent days.
For more articles on Hong Kong on What’s on Weibo, check out our previous articles here.
By Manya Koetse
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