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September 22, 2017

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Stories of Hong Kong: Hopes and fears on landmark anniversary

Divided by age, wealth and politics, the people of Hong Kong will mark the 20th anniversary of its transfer from Britain back to China with contrasting emotions: anger and pessimism, pride and celebration.

The semi-autonomous city still enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland, but in recent years there has been increasing unrest.

There have been rallies for democratic reform and an independence movement has emerged in response to what some regard as meddling by Beijing.

Soaring property prices and low wages have also fuelled unhappiness, particularly among young people.

But for some, Hong Kong remains a land of opportunity, and being part of China a source of stability and security.

Here three residents talk about their hopes, dreams and fears, as the anniversary of the July 1, 1997, handover approaches.

The Protester

Dressed in a white t-shirt, net skirt and with pale green streaks through her hair, Chau Ho-oi plays with her phone as she sits in a park in her home neighbourhood of Prince Edward.

Born in 1997 to a music teacher father and office worker mother, the 20-year-old student's earliest aspiration was to be a police officer.

Instead, she became the youngest protester arrested during mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement rallies three years ago.

"I thought being in the police was righteous, but now I think there are other ways to serve justice," she says.

Chau is part of a new wave of activists pushing back at Beijing and works with pro-democracy party Demosisto, co-founded by leading campaigner Joshua Wong.

Student rallies in 2012 against lessons promoting Chinese patriotism first made her realize young people could change things, says Chau.

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