It is the pink dress with the white trim that draws the eye in but it is the gray or off color people around. The market vendors look like they are just meeting another person but in a pink dress. She is the Queen of England. Security is the out of focus guy in the back with a military-looking hat. Sure, there are probably plain clothed police around her or even behind George Freson who is taking the photo, but it looks normal. It looks common. It has an ‘every dayness’ about it.
The picture is from the Queen’s first trip to Hong Kong. The 1975 tour is the first time a British Monarch visited the colony. In the trip, she visited City Hall, Morse Park, Oi Man Estate, Hung Hom MTR station, the University of Hong Kong and the Kwai Chung Container Port. She was here for four days. The same amount of time Xi Jinping is visiting Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former colony back to China. The contrasts are huge.
Most of the events Xi is visiting are security facilities like the military bases in Yuen Long and Admiralty and official events like the anniversary and the swearing in of Carrie Lam as the next Chief Executive or leader of Hong Kong. It is not considered a visit but an “inspection” according to the banners welcoming the president to the city as his motorcade drove along car-less roads.
The president is staying at the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai. The area around has been blocked off for the public using water barriers and many layers of security. Any political banners are banned in the area. The South China Morning Post reports 11,000 of city’s 29,000 police officers are taking part in the security arrangements for the visit.
The political climate in Hong Kong is different. There were protests this week by pro-democracy activists, and they will continue through Xi’s ‘inspection.’ There is more anxiety about possible terrorist threats. All of these things make it a lot different than the Queen’s trip in 1975, but there was also the Cultural Revolution going on just a few miles away in China. There were communist threats as well, and yet the Queen still ventured out beyond the security bubble to meet with the people. In Xi’s ‘inspection’ there will be no picture like this. Just a lot of pictures of officials who are out of touch with the people they should serve.