The world's newest airport - Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok - was officially opened today (Thursday) by President Jiang Zemin in a colourful programme that matched the spectacular surroundings.
Some 3,000 guests, as well as large number of media representatives, attended the ceremony held in the spacious and innovative passenger terminal building.
The main part of the ceremony began with the arrival of President Jiang and other senior Mainland officiating guests, accompanied by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr Tung Chee Hwa.
The other Mainland guests comprised Vice Premier Qian Qichen; Alternate Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Mr Zeng Qinghong; Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, General Fu Quanyou; and Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Liao Hui.
Welcoming them at the entrance to the passenger terminal building were the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Chairman of the Airport Authority, Mr Wong Po-yan.
A thousand representatives of the 18 districts in Hong Kong greeted the President and a long dragon formed by over 500 people gave a spirited performance.
After the officiating guests were seated, Mr Tung gave a speech of welcome, and speeches were also given by Vice Premier Qian and Mr Wong. President Jiang then unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the airport.
After this, President Jiang and members of the officiating party viewed an exhibition titled "Chek Lap Kok - Past, Present and Future". Souvenirs commemorating the airport opening were presented to President Jiang and Vice Premier Qian by Mrs Chan and Mr Tsang, respectively.
To entertain the guests, performances were given by singers Miss Sheena Easton and Mr Jacky Cheung, at the conclusion of which guests were treated to a cocktail reception.
Guests attending the ceremony included community leaders, Executive Council members, legislators, members of the civil aviation and travel industries and representatives of airport operators and contractors.
Among the guests from overseas were representatives of governments having close ties with the Hong Kong SAR and chairmen of other airport authorities.
Highlights of the earlier part of the programme included a Nan Hai (south seas) lion dance, performances by the Hong Kong Children's Choir and a group of musicians playing both western and Chinese instruments, and a video show about the airport. The performances were organised by Radio Television Hong Kong.
After the opening ceremony, President Jiang, Mrs Jiang and some of the senior Mainland officials departed from the new airport by plane, being seen off by Mr Tung and Mrs Chan. It was the first flight to leave the new Hong Kong International Airport.
Commercial operations at the $70.2 billion airport, built on a 1,248-hectare artificial island, will begin on Monday, July 6, after the existing Kai Tak airport closes down the night before.
End/Thursday, July 2, 1998
Photo Caption: President Jiang Zemin unveils a plaque to mark the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok today (Thursday). Looking on are the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, and the Chairman of Airport Authority, Mr Wong Po-yan.