Hong Kong to sing from a new song list

It looks as though Hong Kong will be rocking into the new era of Chinese rule armed with a bevy of new patriotic songs and tunes.

Among the officially sanctioned musical works are "Hong Kong is Also Mama's Child" and "Song for a New Century". The official Guangming Daily reported yesterday that the short list of 30 approved songs and 16 symphonic works had been drawn from more than 4,000 submissions of budding music writers throughout China and the colonies of Hong Kong and Macau.

The new tunes will be given an airing in the run-up to the handover of power, so that they can be learned by those wishing to take part in the lavish celebrations marking Hong Kong's return to the motherland on 1 July next year. They will played alongside the Chinese national anthem, which calls on the population to refuse to be slaves and struggle for freedom.

The top Hong Kong and Chinese mainland singers are being lined to participate in the handover celebrations. Hong Kong's pop stars, who are immensely popular in China, are busy brushing up their Mandarin language skills, because the Cantonese dialect is frowned on in Peking, not least because it is becoming so trendy among young people on the mainland.

It appears that, as in most other things, the handover of power in Hong Kong will also involve a substantial clash of styles. If the Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, has his way, the Union flag will be lowered over the colony to the strains of Elgar's music and `Highland Cathedral'.

But it is unlikely that Britain and China will be able to reach any agreement on what constitutes suitable music, so they are likely to go their own ways at separate ceremonies for the incoming and outgoing sovereign powers.

China's problem is that the committees responsible for making weighty decisions about the appropriate music and symbolism for the new era have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot. A recent decision made the Chinese white dolphin the symbol for the handover ceremonies. Unfortunately those responsible for this idea seemed unaware that this is an endangered species, threatened with extinction in Chinese waters by the end of the century.

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