The annual July 1 fireworks show, planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Handover, has been criticised for its high cost, and use of simplified Chinese characters.

The Victoria Harbour show will feature eight scenes and last for 23 minutes. Five boats will ignite 39,888 fireworks.

In one scene, the handover celebration song will be played, along with red fireworks displaying the words “China HK.” The word “China” will be rendered in simplified Chinese.

The “China HK” fireworks simulations. Photo: GovHK/Stand News.

The show is sponsored by several groups, including the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations, the Hong Kong China Chamber of Commerce, CT Environmental Group, and the Mainland Headwear Holdings. Sponsorship for the event is estimated to total HK$12 million.

Pyromagic Multi-media Productions, the company responsible for creating the show, said all the personnel operating the fireworks and lighting effects have to be checked by the police. The equipment will be examined by security guards, and the content of the show has to be approved by the Home Affairs Bureau.

But Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong criticised the choice of simplified Chinese in the fireworks show.

“Hong Kong has been using traditional Chinese – why can’t we even defend our own characters at the 20th anniversary of the handover?” he said.

See also: CY Leung criticised for using simplified Chinese characters in social media post

Kwong also slammed the cost of the show.

The Gini co-efficient just announced was at 0.539 – grassroots are living poor lives, but the government spends HK$12 million in public funds for a fireworks show, wastes money in the name of celebrating the return to China – instead of whitewashing public tensions using public funds, why not use the public funds to help the grassroots in need?”

A similar phrase “Chinese people” was used at the October 1 fireworks show in 2014. The production company explained at the time that the traditional Chinese character “gwok” was complicated and too difficult to display.

Kris Cheng

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.