“History is not just a matter of dates. What makes history is what comes before and what comes after the dates that we all remember.” Chris Patten.
It will have been exactly twenty years, this coming weekend, since Chris Patten, the 28th and last British Governor of Hong Kong, gave his memorable speech at the ceremony marking the handover of the former British colony to China. Perhaps there was a tacit acknowledgment in Patten’s words that, actually, the Hong Kong handover was all about dates. Were it not for the clock ticking on the 99-year lease deadline for the New Territories, it is doubtful that the handover would have been negotiated as speedily and peacefully as it was.