Enthusiasts in Hong Kong yesterday snapped up stamps issued to mark 20 years since the territory was handed back to China by Britain with a design paying tribute to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The first stamp, released ahead of the anniversary on Saturday next week, depicts marching PLA troops under the title The Mighty and Civilised Forces.
It comes as the territory remains deeply divided between those loyal to Beijing and groups demanding political reform who feel China is threatening Hong Kong’s cherished freedoms.
The PLA has a garrison in central Hong Kong. Some feared it would be heavy-handed when it arrived in 1997, given the crackdown on student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Instead it has maintained a very low profile and is barred from interfering in local affairs.
Collectors said the stamps, which cost HK$10 (US$1.28) each and are on sale for three months, were more nationalistic than previous commemorations as they gathered to buy them at Hong Kong’s General Post Office.
“This stamp is very relevant and has a heavy military and Chinese flavor to it,” said collector Lok Ka-chung, 70, who said he would exchange them with fellow philatelists in mainland China.
“They’ve been stationed here for 20 years, they should be on the stamp,” said collector Tommy Ying, a 40-year-old engineer.
Enthusiasts had lined up earlier this month to buy PLA-themed envelopes, which have already sold out.
“The PLA’s Hong Kong Garrison has a very important sense of mission for Hong Kong, stabilizing its economy and law and order,” said Joe Kwan, 58, a retired civil servant, when he lined up for the envelopes.
Kwan said he would send them to friends in China and overseas.
Many of the collectors yesterday had created special envelopes or backgrounds on which they stuck the new designs and received a custom-made date stamp.
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