The influential rural body Heung Yee Kuk will launch an event to hoist some 100,000 national and Hong Kong flags across the New Territories to mark this year’s 20th anniversary of the handover to China.

Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, the chairman of the Kuk, said it has purchased 30,000 flags, of which each of the 27 rural district committees will receive at least 1,000. With the support of other friendly groups, he expects 100,000 flags will be displayed around the region.

“During July 1, we will hoist national and regional flags on a large scale, to have a stronger festive mood in the New Territories,” he said at a Kuk meeting on Tuesday.

Hong Kong and Chinese flags
Hong Kong and Chinese flags. Photo: Flickr/whampoaorg.

At the meeting, Lau said the handover had a special meaning to people in the New Territories.

He recalled when their ancestors fought against the British, opposing the treaty to lease the New Territories for 99 years, starting on July 1 in 1898.

Rural people waged a six-day war in April the following year before they surrendered.

PLA welcomed in 1997

Lau said that rural people had continuously fought against the government for their rights, and that it was the first local organisation to support the handover in the 1980s. He said they actively participated in preparation work.

“I believe you still remember well at midnight on July 1, 1997, how many people of the New Territories welcomed the entrance of the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison, under heavy rain,” Lau said.

Lau was chosen as a lawmaker for the Heung Yee Kuk sector functional constituency last year. He succeeded his father Lau Wong-fat, a central figure of the Kuk.

Kenneth Lau. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Lau also said that Kuk members will join the tech exhibition at Victoria Park on July 1 in their personal capacities.

The pro-Beijing organiser, the Hong Kong Celebrations Association, was accused of intentionally blocking a pro-democracy camp from using the football pitches to host their annual march.

But Lau said he believed that the Kuk’s members would not clash with pro-democracy marchers, as Hong Kong is a diverse society which can allow different opinions.

The Kuk will host a celebration ceremony and cultural gala on June 26. It is also organising guided tours to rural areas in celebration.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.