Hong Kong Handover Ceremony Address
delivered 30 June
1997, Tamar, Hong Kong
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text
version below transcribed directly from audio]
Your Royal Highness, Prime Minister, Distinguished
Guests, People of Hong Kong:
For Hong Kong as a whole, today is cause for
celebration not sorrow. But here and there, perhaps there will be a touch of
personal sadness as is true of any departure, a point to which I shall return.
History is not just a matter of dates. What makes history is what comes before
and what comes after the dates that we all remember. The story of this great
city is about the years before this night, and the years of success that will
surely follow it.
Of course, Hong Kong's story is not solely that of the century and a half of
British responsibility, though it is the conclusion of that chapter that we mark
This chapter began with events that, from today's vantage point, at the end of
the following century, none of us here would wish or seek to condone. But we
might note that most of those who live in Hong Kong now do so because of events
in our own century which would today have few defenders. All that, all that is a reminder
that sometimes we should remember the past the better to forget it.
What we celebrate this evening is the restless energy, the hard work, the
audacity of the men and women who have written Hong Kong's success story -- mostly
Chinese men and Chinese women. They were only ordinary in the sense that most of
them came here with nothing. They are extraordinary in what they have achieved
against the odds.
As British administration ends, we are, I believe, entitled to say that our own
nation's contribution here was to provide the scaffolding that enabled the
people of Hong Kong to ascend: the rule of law; clean and light-handed
government; the values of a free society; the beginnings of representative
government; and democratic accountability.
This is a Chinese city, a very Chinese
city with British characteristics. No dependent territory has been left more
prosperous, none with such a rich texture and fabric of civil society --
professions, churches, newspapers, charities, civil servants of the highest
probity, and the most steadfast commitment to the public good.
I have no doubt that, with people here holding on to these values which they
cherish, Hong Kong's star will continue to climb. Hong Kong's values are decent
values. They are universal values. They are the values of the future in Asia as
elsewhere, a future in which the happiest and the richest communities, and the
most confident and most stable too, will be those that best combine
political liberty and economic freedom as we do here today.
All of us here tonight, and I am sure all my fellow countrymen and women
watching these events from afar, wish the Chief Executive of the Special
Administrative Region and his excellent team the very best of luck as they
embark on their journey.
C. H. Tung and his wife, Betty, will serve Hong Kong
with dedication, strength, and enthusiasm. Everyone here, and people outside Hong
Kong as well, will be willing them to succeed in the challenging years that lie
I said that tonight's celebration will be tinged for some with sadness.
So it will be for my family and myself and for others who, like us, will soon
depart from this shore. I am the
28th governor, the last governor. Like all the
other governors and their families, my wife, my children, and myself will take
Hong Kong home in our hearts. You have been kind to us. You have made us as
welcome. It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to share your
home for five years, and to have some responsibility for your future.
Kong people are to run Hong Kong.
That is the promise.
And that is the
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