• Carrie Lam wins the Hong Kong elections.

Carrie Lam wins the Hong Kong elections. (Photo : Getty Images)

To celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by Britain, authorities are in the middle of planning festivities that reportedly cost millions of dollars, according to an article by the Straits Times.

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An estimated amount of HK $640 million is being proposed by the government to cover the expenses of the events, which will run from mid-2017 to the end of the year.

Art exhibitions and tournaments are just part of the program of events, but the highlight is undoubtedly President Xi Jinping’s expected appearance on July 1. President Xi’s visit, if ever, will mark the Chinese president’s first trip to the semi-autonomous city since 2012.

Leung Chun Ying, the city leader, has said that the plans reflect Hong Kong’s “vision of tomorrow,” the Straits Times reported.

Critics, however, are unimpressed, saying that the celebrations are out of line, especially with the political tensions in the city. Some believe that Beijing is meddling in Hong Kong, causing divisions between the city’s pro-China and pro-democracy camps to stir.

Meanwhile, locals are divided as to whether a huge celebration is necessary to commemorate the anniversary.

“The handover, to me, is historically significant and worth commemorating because Hong Kong was originally a part of China,” Michael, a 51-year-old resident of the city, told the Straits Times.

“The [anniversary] is important for Hong Kong because we are all Chinese,” added Ah Yu, a 76-year-old retiree.

Some residents agree with critics, saying that the funds should instead be used to mend political divisions in the city.

“Are we celebrating the fact that we do not have freedom and have no democracy,” Ales Li, a 67-year-old resident, said in an interview. “Why don’t they use all these resources to mend divisions?”

Some of the residents from the younger generation echo the same sentiments, labeling the celebrations as nothing but one big publicity stunt.

“They are not really helpful to anyone,” Miranda Yeung, a 20-year-old university student, said. “They are a great publicity campaign and look very exciting to a tourist, but they do not really mean that much.”