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Festivities Mark 53rd Birthday
Braving chilly morning winds, tens of thousands of people gathered before dawn at Tiananmen Square in Beijing yesterday for a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Rows of bundled-up bystanders - some four to five people deep - waved flags as they craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the National Day festivities. Some climbed trees while others hoisted children onto their shoulders.

A brass band played as People's Liberation Army soldiers marched in formation. Around 6 a.m., the national flag was unfurled with a flourish and soon it fluttering high above the fabled square.

One man who had been waiting since 3 a.m. said he was heartened by the sight.

"Our great motherland is getting stronger," said the man.

"I hope one day China will stand at the top of the world."

In Hong Kong, Mr. Or, a 42-year-old computer engineer, got up early yesterday morning just to watch the national flag raising ceremony at the Gold Bauhinia Square in front of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

"I came here about six to watch the ceremony," said Or, as he cradled his four-year-old daughter in his arms.

About 20 minutes before the ceremony was held, the viewing area at the square was filled with people while hundreds of guests including major government officials, senior leaders of the People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong and foreign consulate officials, had been seated.

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee Hwa and his wife Betty Tung arrived at 7:52, greeted by loud cheers and waving small red national flags in numerous hands.

The national flag and the regional flag of Hong Kong were raised amid the playing and singing of the national anthem at 8:00.

"A strong motherland provides strong backing to our community and our prosperity, and underpins the successful implementation of 'one country, two systems'," Tung said yesterday afternoon.

To ensure greater success in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle, the people of Hong Kong should all endeavor to care more about the country, its prosperity, unity and security, Tung remarked to an audience of about 3,000 attending the National Day cocktail reception held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

A special horse race was also held yesterday at the Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong to mark the National Day.

The special event, known as the National Day Cup, drew enthusiastic participation by a large number of horse racing fans, who were eager to celebrate while enjoying one of the city's favorite pastimes.

In Macao, a series of events were held yesterday to mark the National Day.

The celebrations started with a grand national flag- raising ceremony at 8:00 a.m., which was attended by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah and all principal officials from the Macao Special Administrative Region government, central government officials station-ed in Macao and local celebrities and ordinary people.

(eastday.com Oct 2, 2002)

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