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Area Students Plan and Present Hong Kong Week

By Eva Moy
Associate News Editor

Two MIT groups, the Hong Kong Student Society and the Society for Hong Kong and China Affairs, joined with clubs from Harvard and Boston universities to plan Hong Kong Week, an attempt "to try to promote the awareness of Hong Kong to the American public," said Jerome C. Lui '94, a coordinator of Hong Kong week and a member of the HKSS.

Hong Kong week commenced with the Hong Kong in Transition conference at Harvard's Yenching Auditorium last Saturday and will continue with other activities throughout the week.

The conference addressed two issues -- "Is There a Place for Hong Kong in the New World Order?" and "In Search of Hong Kong Culture and Identity." Speakers included professors from both Hong Kong and the Boston area, a Hong Kong legislator, a U.S. consul general in Hong Kong, and several authors who have written on issues facing Hong Kong also spoke at the conference.

The panel addressed changes that may occur when Hong Kong is returned to China on July 1, 1997, after 99 years of British rule. They also discussed the effects of the Joint Declaration of 1984 between China and Great Britain, which will provide Hong Kong with democracy and autonomy over all but its foreign affairs.

Other events of Hong Kong week included a concert featuring Hong Kong pop singer Anthony Wong last Sunday and a week-long display in Lobby 7 called "Hong Kong in Transition." Movies about history, comedy, and contemporary Hong Kong life will be shown in Cantonese with English subtitles late this week, said Christina S. Ng '94, who is responsible for the film festival.

The week's sponsors included several Hong Kong companies and the Boston University Alumni Association of Hong Kong.

Post-1997 outlook

Ezra Vogul, professor of social science at Harvard University, said at the conference that reform within China, gradual improvement of wages within the industrialized Asian countries, and the growth of trade in the region will provide a good economic base for Hong Kong and the other countries.

Vogul said that in the short run, China may crack down on Hong Kong as it did at Tiananmen Square, but in the long run, as China's economy develops, there may be a loosening of the old party rule. After 1997, the strongly capitalist system of Hong Kong and the strongly socialist system of China, which are already joined in a symbiotic economic relationship, will have to merge, Vogul added.

A Hong Kong Legislative Council member, Man-ka Ho, presented the viewpoint that the United Kingdom has "given away to China" the freedom to control the fate of Hong Kong's democracy, contrary to the Joint Declaration. He and other United Democrats of Hong Kong are frustrated by Britain's apathy.

Ho cited the demonstrations held in Hong Kong after the Tiananmen Square massacre as a sign that "Hong Kong people want democracy now, even though this won't please Beijing."

The idea for a Hong Kong week came from recent, similar events at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley, Lui said.

"We thought that it was a good idea to bring the spirit of Hong Kong to Boston," said Lawrence C. C. Chueng, a member of the Harvard Hong Kong club and a core committee member for Hong Kong Week. Boston University, MIT, and Harvard have had a history of jointly organizing activities like the Chinese New Year's party, he added.

Cheung said "I think it's interesting because we're getting perspectives from two or more views that people are not aware of. I was surprised that people thought there would be an economic boom [in Hong Kong after 1997]. It's a very stimulating discussion.

Ng also thought response had been good and noted that a few economic lectures went over time because of the volume of the audience's questions.

Lui was "quite amazed" at the number of people who went to the Wong concert. He said organizers had expected about 400 people, while about 600 to 700 people attended.

"I really enjoyed ... the contemporary interpretation of Chinese music... . I'd never been exposed to this kind of new wave Chinese music," said Cheung.

Originally, the event had been planned for November, but it had to be postponed because of a lack of funding. "There have been a lot of ups and downs" in the organization of something of "such a magnitude," said Frank Y. Ho '93, an HKSS member.

During the rest of the year, the HKSS conducts study breaks, shows movies, compiles a newsletter, and participates in intramural sports, Ng said.