A “Hong Kong 1997” baseball cap courtesy of Northwest Airlines. A tote bag from DHL. Kodak film. A commemorative watch from the Hong Kong government.
Those are just a few of the trinkets in a prize package valued at more than $100 that the media people coming to cover the handover of Hong Kong to China will get when they check in at the accreditation center.
The 8,000-plus reporters, photographers and camera crews from more than 770 news organizations on hand for the occasion will also be able to work out of a state-of-the-art 97,200-square-foot press and broadcast center. It’s located in the convention center, next to where the July 1 ceremony will be held.
The center, which will remain open around the clock until July 10, provides some 600 free seats for journalists. Major TV and news services have rented out 230 booths for the duration, at rents that start at about $3,300 for a 100-square-foot space.
Organizers say they were processing about 2,800 applications from Hong Kong media, 1,300 from Japan and 1,000 from the U.S. The networks are expected to send their big-name anchors, who will broadcast from vantage points atop prime hotels and office buildings with harbor-front views.
“The number of journalists who applied to come are some 2,000 more than we had expected, but we are still able to provide sufficient facilities and services for them,” says Felix Cheng of the Handover Ceremony Coordination Office.
China, which is sending 600 people, is reveling in the handover because it is seen as an end to 157 years of humiliation at the hands of Britain. China’s national television network, CCTV, is sending in nearly 300 people, a mobile satellite TV station and helicopters.
Only 400 journalists will be allowed into the indoor ceremonies, while the rest can watch the events on two large video screens in the media center.
Some 250 miles of video and audio cables and 40 tons of television equipment have been installed, the government says.