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Yang Liwei meets HK community
( 2003-11-02 08:54) (Xinhua)

"The Hong Kong compatriots make me feel at home, " said China's first astronaut Yang Liwei at a gathering held in his honor at the Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei and Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan sing a song named "A man should strive to improve himself constantly" at the Hong Kong Stadium November 1, 2003. [newsphoto.com.cn]

The stadium in Causeway Bay became a sea of red flags and flowers as around 40,000 Hong Kong people were coming to meet the hero. When Yang appeared at the stadium, he was given a standing ovation and flag waving.

Invited by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government representing the wishes of 6.8 million Hong Kong People, the 38 year-old astronaut arrived in Hong Kong with the delegation of China's First Manned Space Mission on Friday night.

Facing the huge audience, Yang said, "I have been very excited since I came here yesterday. The enthusiastic Hong Kong compatriots made my heart beat faster than when I was in the spacecraft."

"Hong Kong is much more beautiful than I had imagined. It like a pearl," he said.

Hu Shixiang, the director-general of China's Manned Space Mission Program, also thanked Hong Kong people for their warm welcome. He said the special administrative region is the first toask Yang to pay a visit.

Today's gathering, organized by various Hong Kong community groups, gave a chance for Hong Kong people from all walks of life to see Yang in close-up.

After a flag-raising ceremony by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison, Yang rode around the stadium on a golf cart to greet with all the audience.

"Uncle Yang looks more handsome than on TV screen," Andrew Chow,a student from the Tang Shiu Kin Primary School said. Chow's father told Xinhua his son got the ticket from a lucky draw in his school and the child hoped he would be luckier to get an autograph from Yang.

Among the luckiest are three students who were picked out to have a dialogue with Yang. Yang told them he met many difficulties in his 5-year-training as an astronaut, but "one should have the faith to achieve his dream no matter how difficult it is."

Yang said he will continue to work hard and prepare himself fully to accept new tasks from the motherland.

Former PLA pilot Yang, who was skyrocketed into the space in Shenzhou 5 spaceship and orbited the earth for 14 times on Oct. 15-16, became a hero of the Chinese nation overnight.

It also made China the third country in the world to send man into space, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.

At the gathering, Yang also sang a song with famous Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan, the first time for the astronaut to sing before so big an audience. The self-made Chan asked Hong Kong young people to take Yang as their model, stressing that one should make a lot of efforts to gain success.

Donald Tsang, HKSAR chief secretary for administration, also attended the gathering. In his speech, he encouraged Hong Kong young people to learn from Yang and meet life's challenge ahead bravely.

A newly released survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups showed that over 71 percent of Hong Kong young people feel excited and were proud of being Chinese on the news of Shenzhou 5 launch.

Today's event received support from nearly 50 organizations in Hong Kong and attracted people from all walks of life.

"It is really an unforgettable experience to see Yang in Hong Kong and I admire his modesty and calmness very much," Mr. Lam, 40, who came all the way from the New Territory, told Xinhua.

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