Some Tech students affected by Hong Kong's return to China

By William Loeffel
Special Assignments Editor

The lives of several Georgia Tech students will be affected the next time they go home, as a result of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule.

China recently regained Hong Kong after 150 years of British rule. Under the British government, Hong Kong experienced a surging free market economy and some measure of democracy.

China has pledged that Hong Kong will remain essentially autonomous for fifty years.

Students have mixed opinions about Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule. Evan Ng, a native of Hong Kong, says "People [in Hong Kong] would probably not tell what they really think. It's a self-censored society." However, "for the first couple of years, nothing will change," said Ng. "Hong Kong has little to gain and a lot to lose," said Kiran Ragasekher, who was born in India but later moved to Hong Kong with his family.

"The guy on the street won't be affected," said Ragasekher. "Those in higher position (who own land) will be affected more."

"People seem to exhibit signs of guarded optimism. Life continues much as usual, and I'm fairly certain you will see no major changes in the near future. The success or failure of the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administration Region) experiment can only be assessed in the long run."

Others are not as confident.

"There is no way that they can do this one country two systems nonsense," said Danny Coyle, a Civil Engineering co-op in Hong Kong. "I think that every one is living in a dream world. The big dogs, Li Peng (the guy responsible for Tiananmen Square) and Jiang Zemin both say that Hong Kong will not be touched for 50 years, but they just installed an appointed cabinet of communists. The leader of the SAR is a communist himself. So I don't think that there is any way that Hong Kong will stay the same."

The Chinese and Taiwanese student community have definite opinions on the handover as well.

One Chinese student feels that China will do whatever they can to maintain or increase the prosperity of Hong Kong "to show the world that they have been as right and good as they are always claiming."

Another Chinese student feels much national pride at Hong Kong's return. "When I watched the handover ceremony, I felt proud to be a Chinese. The treaty which lent Hong Kong to Britain was really an insult to all Chinese." One expressed his displeasure at Hong Kong's return. "Hong Kong people could still have high quality life, but they will lose the right of free speaking and demonstration."

There are between 6 and 8 students enrolled at Tech from Hong Kong according to Miller Templeton, Director of International Programs.

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Copyright © 1997 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor
and by the Student Publications Board