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Hong Kong Ten Years On Part 5- My Chinese heart

04-07-2011 16:59 BJT


It's October the 1st, 1996, and a celebration is being held outside the Deng family temple in Hong Kong's New Territories. It's a special holiday – the National Day of the People's Republic of China – and in various parts of the New Territories people are marking the occasion. Such celebrations are not so common before Hong Kong's return to China. The sumptuous banquet is, in part, a legacy of the Deng family's tradition of commemorating their ancestors. Eight months from now, Hong Kong is returning to China.

It's 2006, and another sumptuous banquet is being held in the New Territories. But now, the National Day of China is a holiday here in every sense.

Deng Shengshi is 78 years old. As he does every morning, he is going to the family temple to burn incense before the shrine of his ancestors. But today is special, because he is receiving a group of visitors.

The visitors are from Hong Kong's Lingnan University. They are researching a book they plan to write, "Chronicles of Hong Kong".

The Deng family temple dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is the largest and oldest surviving family temple in Hong Kong. Deng Shengshi is well versed in the family's history, having spent much of his life studying it. He has traced his ancestors back to the Southern Song Dynasty, almost a thousand years ago, when the Dengs were living in the Chinese hinterland. The visitors are fascinated by the stories he tells, and by the family mementoes he keeps in the house.

Dr. Lau Chi-pang is Dean of the history department at Lingnan University, and one of the leaders of the writing team. He considers their task to be both a challenge and an honour. The previous edition of the "Chronicles of Hong Kong" was published in 1841, during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty. The new edition of the book, appearing after more than a century and a half, will be the first history of Hong Kong written by Hong Kong people themselves.

Joseph S.P. Ting is a consultant for the Hong Kong Museum of History. With a doctorate in history, he has his own views on writing local history.

Another key figure in the writing team is Liu Shuyong, a scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1996, and has spent most of his time since then, at Lingnan University.

The ten years that have passed since 1997 have been a new era in the Deng family temple's history. It's a decade that has been special not only for the Deng family, but for all the people of Hong Kong.

"Some Hong Kong people have only limited experiences in life. They don't know much about things around them.They know very little about Hong Kong's history."Chronicles of Hong Kong" will provide a foundation for them to understand Hong Kong now and in the past," said T. Dr. Lau Chi-Pang, Dean of History Hong Kong Lingnan University.

The Shenzhen River connects the Chinese hinterland with Hong Kong. More than a century ago, the Deng family were at the forefront of the battle against the British troops who were invading along the river. In 1997, the river started playing a very different role.

Ten years later, as the New Year approaches, crowds of people are traveling along this modern transport link between two cities.

David Akers-Jones comes originally from Britain. He has lived in Hong Kong for the past 50 years. Although he still looks very much the westerner, this eighty-year-old is a Hong-Konger through and through.

Since Hong Kong's return to China, the old man has taken the opportunity to travel in China. He describes what he has seen and felt in these Chinese-style paintings.

David Akers-Jones at one time served as chief secretary of the British Hong Kong Government. Unlike many other Hong Kong residents of British origin, with the approach of Hong Kong's return to China he decided to stay. It was a big decision. But his experiences since the return have convinced him that he made the right choice.

"I was never worried about 1997. Many people were, and many left.I never thought of leaving.July 1, 1997 was a very special day.

But life went on as usual. The streets were the same.People walked here and there, just like before,as if nothing had happened. However, Hong Kong was transformed overnight from a colony to a member of the Chinese family.It was a wonderful experience," said David Akers-Jones, fmr Chief Secretary of Hong Kong.

Whenever he has the time, Edo De Waart loves to take his wife and children to the beach. After Hong Kong returned to China, he made Hong Kong his permanent home.

Edo De Waart has a love of Chinese culture and Hong Kong, which he has used to good effect as the chief conductor and art director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, he has an important task in life: together with his wife and children, he is learning Chinese Putonghua – although he admits that his daughter is much better at learning it than he is.

"My daughter speaks very good Putonghua.She is always studying. She is attending a Chinese-speaking international school.My son is attending a bilingual class,where the teachers speak English and Chinese.This education is very good for them, "said Edo De Waart .

De Waart likens Hong Kong to a passage on water between Oriental and Western cultures. When he plays Chinese Music, he will dress in Chinese clothing. Everything about him demonstrates his love and admiration of Chinese culture.

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