Queen Elizabeth’s loss of life sparks nostalgia in Hong Kong for ‘golden period’

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The loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked a wave of nostalgia amongst some in Hong Kong for the territory’s pre-1997 “golden age” at a time when Beijing is clamping down on town’s freedoms.

Greater than 2,500 folks braved sweltering temperatures on Monday and queued for as much as three hours exterior the British consulate within the territory to put flowers and pay tribute to the Queen, who was affectionately recognized to older generations because the “boss woman”. On Tuesday, folks have been once more queueing exterior the consulate.

Whereas China’s president Xi Jinping despatched condolences to the UK’s new monarch, King Charles III, and praised the Queen as having gained “vast acclaim”, many pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong and conglomerates based mostly within the Chinese language territory have been muted in paying their respects.

John Lee, town’s new chief government anointed by Beijing this yr, issued a short assertion expressing “disappointment” after Xi supplied his condolences. HSBC chief government Noel Quinn additionally prolonged his condolences.

However British colonial-era buying and selling homes Swire and Jardine Matheson have remained silent within the days after the Queen’s loss of life, though a Jardine’s spokesperson instructed the Monetary Occasions the group had despatched a non-public letter of condolences to the British consulate. Her funeral is scheduled for Monday.

Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have more and more denied Britain’s position within the improvement of the monetary hub. New college textbooks have tried to recast town’s historical past by describing it as an “occupied territory” that was by no means a colony.

The trouble follows anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019 that led Beijing to introduce a nationwide safety regulation and clamp down on the territory’s once-vibrant media and civil society teams.

British sailors carry a portrait of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II by way of the HMS Tamar, the British Forces’ Hong Kong headquarters, for the final time forward of the 1997 handover © Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Photos

Beijing-backed newspaper Ta Kung Pao on Tuesday revealed a commentary criticising “political propaganda” for selling nostalgia over the Queen’s loss of life, saying it solely mirrored a “very small minority” of the inhabitants.

But buildings, streets and submit packing containers that includes the Queen’s royal cipher and Hong Kong greenback cash bearing her likeness are nonetheless in circulation within the metropolis, which was dominated by Britain for greater than 150 years till its handover to China in 1997.

The Queen was head of state in Hong Kong for 45 years, presiding over a interval of fast improvement that some regard as a golden age although the territory was beneath overseas rule.

“I really like and respect the Queen very a lot,” stated 74-year-old Tung Lau exterior the British consulate. “Again within the colonial days, we had all the time believed that we’d have a greater future.”

Lau stated his daughter had joined a wave of emigration in response to Beijing’s makes an attempt to exert larger management, shifting to Canada.

Many exiled pro-democracy activists, together with former pupil chief Nathan Regulation, have paid tribute to the Queen.

Even a few of Hong Kong’s youthful era, born within the postcolonial period, had a way of nostalgia for what they noticed as a interval when town’s circumstances have been “higher”.

That is regardless of Britain’s governors by no means granting Hong Kongers common suffrage, whereas colonial police have been criticised for repressing anti-government protests and utilizing a sedition regulation that’s now being wielded towards Beijing’s critics.

“I shed tears after I first heard of the Queen’s loss of life,” stated Jack Chan, a 23-year-old postgraduate pupil. “These have been the higher days earlier than 1997. Issues have quickly diminished particularly over these previous few years.”

Banker Monie Fong believed the Queen’s loss of life reminded lots of Hong Kong’s “golden period” between the Nineteen Fifties and the handover, and highlighted the disappearance of the values and freedoms it as soon as held.

“It’s the finish of an period,” the 57-year-old stated.

The Queen visited Hong Kong twice in 1975 and 1986. Many older folks dwelling at a Kowloon public housing property the place she stopped nonetheless had vivid reminiscences of the monarch.

An 86-year-old surnamed Chan recalled seeing the Queen in particular person as she handed by his vegetable stall on the public housing property’s market, describing her as “actually sleek”.

Video: Hong Kong’s future as Asia’s monetary centre | FT Movie

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