Giant Buddha overlooks site of Hong Kong's new airport

(Photograph omitted)

HONG KONG (Reuter) - A helicopter flies past the 112ft- high Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven) Buddha sited on a hilltop at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau island. It looks down on the site of the colony's new airport. In a two-hour ceremony chanting monks inaugurated the huge bronze statue after a struggle lasting almost 20 years to build the 250-ton likeness at a cost of pounds 6m. The ceremony brought together Chris Patten, the Governor, and China's top official in Hong Kong, Zhou Nan, bitter antagonists over democratic reform in the colony. Mr Patten held out his hand but Mr Zhou did not take it; instead he gave the Buddhist greeting of clasped hands. Mr Patten responded in kind. Asked about the incident, the Governor said that he presumed Mr Zhou, a member of the Communist Party since the age of 19, must be a Buddhist.