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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

The Shows Have Begun

Three different views of the handover


HONG KONG'S HANDOVER IS made for TV. Various television production houses are putting out documentaries in the run-up to the historic transfer of sovereignty. Each has its own take on the territory. A sampling:

Widely Told

Government broadcaster Radio and Television Hong Kong has teamed up with five Asian stations for a serial called "97 Impact," to be shown probably next June. The co-producers -- the others are Japan's NHK, South Korea's KBS, Singapore Broadcasting Corp., the Broadcasting Development Fund of Taiwan and Shanghai TV -- are each responsible for an episode on a business topic of local concern. The Korean and Taiwan stations will focus on how the hand-over could affect their respective China trade. Singapore, which competes with Hong Kong in some areas, will look at how the Lion City can benefit from the transfer. NHK will examine the possibility of Shanghai replacing Hong Kong as a regional fi-nancial center. And Shanghai TV will look at the prospects for cooperation.

Unequivocally Told

On July 2, China marked the one-year countdown with the first episode of a 12-part series examining the territory's history from Beijing's viewpoint. Produced by China Central Television (CCTV) and the Hong Kong-based, China-funded Ta Kung Pao newspaper, it details, says the promotion, "the Chinese people's struggle for Hong Kong's development and their efforts to maintain its prosperity and stability."

The programs -- six have been shown while the rest will be broadcast after the handover -- feature interviews with many local dignitaries regarded as friends of China, including mega-tycoon Li Ka Shing and shipping magnate Tung Chee Hwa, hot favorite to be Hong Kong's first post-1997 chief executive. But his soon-to-be predecessor, British Governor Chris Patten, is not forgotten. Much vilified by Beijing, Patten appears to the accompaniment of mournful music. This man, intones the narrator grimly, has violated virtually every Sino-British agreement over the handover.

Carefully Told

"Hong Kong -- One Hundred Topics," produced by the Li Yang Group, a production house and CCTV's Hong Kong advertising rep, aims to satisfy the growing mainland appetite for information about Hong Kong. A 15-minute episode is broadcast daily from Shenzhen. Some episodes focus on mundane topics like the Basic Law and social security. But the camera also takes in racy discos and horse races.

Producers are careful how they tell the story. "[For] horse racing, we focus on the history -- how it has changed from a bourgeois event to a time-killing activity," says production manager James Keung. "We do not let a gambler talk about how exciting it is." As for the episode on night life, "to strike a balance," says Keung, "we interviewed people [taking] evening courses to improve themselves." Fair enough. At least the show -- and all the other programs -- convey how multi-dimensional Hong Kong is.

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