July 1 March Summary

On July 1, 2004, hundreds of thousands of people marched from Victoria Park to the main government offices in central Hong Kong in a demonstration organized by the Civil Human Rights Front on the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with the mainland.

The central theme of the march was an affirmation of the Hong Kong people's desire for greater democratic governance, although people carried signs that ranged from demanding the Chief Executive's resignation to protesting the ruling given by the National People's Congress in April that eliminated the possibility of direct elections in 2008. Hong Kong's Chief Executive is currently chosen by an 800-member committee, and in the upcoming elections in September the public will be allowed to vote for 30 out of the 60 seats in the Legislative Council for geographic constituencies.

Estimates for the number of participants ranged from the organizers' figure of 530,000 to the number of 200,000 given by police. A definitive calculation was rendered difficult by the many marchers who joined in at various points along the procession route and who did so in numbers that varied at different times throughout the afternoon and early evening. Several university research teams conducted a research. Three research teams from different universities conducted similar research yesterday but the result has not yet ready for release.

In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa spoke briefly at a news conference on Thursday night. He reiterated that the "ultimate aim" for Hong Kong was universal suffrage. However, he offered no timetable, saying only: "Let us work together to build a prosperous, stable, free, democratic, harmonious and united Hong Kong."

Several prominent officials in China and from around the world also commented on the issues surrounding the march. Zhang Qiyue, the spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, spoke at a news conference in Beijing on June 25th. "Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, Hong Kong residents have enjoyed unprecedented genuine democratic rights and freedom. The democracy in Hong Kong is being concretely developed in accordance with the Basic Law and will finally attain its goals."

In Europe, Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, also remarked on the march. "Hong Kong people, seven years on from the handover, still wish for what Hong Kong people wanted in 1997, that is, a bigger share in determining their own lives," Patten said. "My own view is that if they trusted people in Hong Kong the results would be to make Hong Kong more, rather than less, successful," he said.

This summary is taken from articles and official statements quoted in The South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), The Standard (www.thestandard.com.hk), the BBC News (www.bbc.co.uk), The New York Times (www.nytimes.com), the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China (http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/), and EUBusiness (www.eubusiness.com).