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Taikonaut sparks space enthusiasm in HK
( 2003-11-01 08:43) (China Daily)

Yang Liwei, China's first space traveller, received a hero's welcome from the people of Hong Kong as he arrived in the territory on Friday for a six-day visit.

Yang Liwei (C), China's first astronaut, waves to Hong Kong people welcoming him at the airport as he arrived there on Friday for a six-day visit. Yang was greeted by top government officials and scores of flag-waving schoolchildren at the airport before being whisked off to a dinner reception, hosted by leader Tung Chee-hwa.[newsphoto.com.cn]
From the moment the space delegation emerged at the airport, he was cheered by about 1,000 students and citizens waving the SAR (Special Administrative Region) flag, slogans and greeting cards.

SAR Financial Secretary Henry Tang and Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho were also at the airport to greet his arrival.

As Yang left the vehicle outside Government House, he was greeted by Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Already waiting in the garden of Government House were some 750 students, young people and citizens cheering his arrival.

On the way to the banquet hall, he shook hands with the screaming well-wishers and signed autographs for some of them. Walking inside the banquet hall, he was enthusiastically received by about 400 guests attending the welcome party.

In a brief speech, Yang said he felt honoured to visit Hong Kong and thanked the local people for their enthusiastic reception.

"I was lucky to be China's first astronaut who travelled to space and experienced the most sensational, historic moment.

"The fulfillment of China's space travel dream for 1,000 years once again shows the world that China is amongst the world's greatest powers, succeeding in our space mission with our own efforts,'' he said.

In his opening speech, Tung said the Chinese nation was thrilled by the launch and return of Shenzhou V, China's first manned space ship and astronaut Yang Liwei.

A schoolgirl waves China's national flag and the flag of Hong Kong SAR as China's first taikonaut Yang Liwei arrives at the Hong Kong airport, Oct 31, 2003. [newsphoto.com.cn]
He also thanked the central government's huge support for allowing Yang's swift visit to Hong Kong to fulfil the aspirations of the local people.

"We thank you and your predecessors for their endeavours and selfless devotion over the years that created such success admired by the whole world.

"This marvellous achievement not only raises Hong Kong people and especially the young people's self-esteem in our nation but also let them know that Chinese people have the wisdom to fly in space and challenge state-of-the-art technology.''

Saying that Yang would love Hong Kong more as his stay here was so greatly welcomed, Tung amused that he should look out from the space ship to see Hong Kong, the "Pearl of the Orient,'' the next time he travelled to space.

During the welcome party, Yang also presented Tung with a video tape of his space flight as a souvenir, which was played on the spot at Tung's request.

From the film, Yang was seen eating mini moon cakes for his breakfast. But the moon cake floated away as he attempted to swallow it, sparking laughter from the floor.

Also seen in the film was the earth from the window of the space ship. It was very bright as the film was shot between night time and daylight.

Apart from the dinner hosted in his honour, Yang and his accompanying colleagues did not attend any more public functions on Friday night. On Saturday morning, he will attend the opening ceremony of the aero-space exhibition, followed by a grand welcome party at Hong Kong Stadium in the afternoon.


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