The most noticeable aspect of this colonization is that Mainland China is purchasing the shares of many successful Hong Kong firms. A mainland conglomerate set the standard even before the handover by acquiring a chunk owned entirely by Swire and Sons of Scotland.
Another seemingly innocuous sign of change came when Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa asked a group of Hong Kong government officials to applaud in order to pass a new measure. This method, though the norming in Mainland China, is a far cry from giving a show of hands or using a written ballot, which are the usual means that Hong Kong employees to approve a measure.
Tung's advisers quickly informed him about his faux pas and before criticism from the press could reach a crescendo, it was announced that more democratic procedures would be followed in the future.
Terry Cheng, editor of the Hong Kong Standard, observed that in any functions concerned with the central government, all banners and stage dressings were noticeably Beijing-style rather than Hong Kong-style.
He spoke at an East-West Center gathering in Hong Kong.
Danny Gittings, a columnist at the South China Morning Post, revealed one of the quiet changes in Hong Kong's new government is its reluctance to provide aid for citizens who run into legal problems on the Mainland. In the past, the British government would intercede on behalf of Hong Kong residents who had these kinds of problems.
"Officials are clearly reluctant to see this change of position exposed," Gittongs said, "recently declining to respond to questions on the issue."
At the same time, other insidious moves are being made. For example, the mainland authorities took advantage of the handover to rewrite textbooks. And as of Sept. 1, 1997 Mainland Chinese history texts were noticeably thinner.
"Sections on Taiwan history, the democracy movements of 1979 and 1989, and the history of Tibet have been slashed considerably or left out altogether. Terminology has also been changed. In most texts, the 1989 Tienanmen massacre is now an 'incident,' no longer a 'crackdown,' " said an article in the Sept. 25, 1997 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Something else that provoked a number of Hong Kongers was the fact that the local director of the Xinhua News Agency, Jiang Enzhu, emerged at the top of the list for the 36 seats Beijing allocated to Hong Kong for the National People's Congress.
The reason for this outrage is that Xinhua functions more as Beijing's watchdog in Hong Kong than as a news agency.