As Beijing prepared for a military parade on Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the second world war, Hong Kong commemorated the same date, which saw the end of the Japanese occupation of the city, with its own ceremony.
As the event began, light rain stopped and sunlight bathed the crowd of about 700 dignitaries, school children and veterans who had come to pay their respects to those who died fighting in the war.
Acting chief executive John Tsang Chun-wah attended the event, along with representatives from Beijing and war veterans’ groups. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying leads a 287-strong delegation to Beijing for the military parade marking the anniversary.
The flags of Hong Kong and China were raised at City Hall just after 8am before a police rifle squad fired a 21-gun salute in remembrance of those who died fighting in the war.
Later, the national anthem was sung by students from St Paul’s Co-educational College, while nine wreaths were laid at the City Hall Memorial Garden.
Royal Hong Kong Regiment veteran Wan Shun-sing, who was only 12 during the Japanese occupation, said he would never forget the cruelty of the occupiers.
“I was there in Hong Kong and witnessed the aggression of the Japanese and the atrocities they committed,” he said. “It’s good to remember those brave people [who fought] in the war.
Retired British Royal Navy commander James McGowan, who represented the Royal British Legion at the ceremony, said it was important to remember those who gave their lives to defend Hong Kong.
“People [should] remember that the way of life they have and the freedoms they have are a result of what people did here, particularly in the second world war,” he said.
“As long as people are given the true version of history and everyone who took part in these events is properly recognised I think it will remain a good thing.”