Below is a comprehension exercise. It is a news report  from Australia about the change of government in Hong Kong in June, 1997.



Paragraph 1

A week from today the tiny island of Hong Kong will be jam packed for one of the world's biggest parties.

Paragraph 2

Hong Kong has been under British control for the last ninety-nine years, but on July the first that will all change, China will be in charge. While some in Hong Kong think that's a good reason to party, others are a bit stressed out about losing some of their rights.

Paragraph 3

On June thirtieth, 1997, the British flag will fly for the last time in Hong Kong because Britain's lease on the area runs out. On July first, Hong Kong will once again become a part of China. Amongst Hong Kong's six and a half million people there are mixed feelings about the handover.

        Nellie Fong - Political Advisor:
        "It's like regaining your identity. It's like finding yourself. It's like now you
         have an opportunity to build your own future."

        Helen Lai - Choreographer:
        "What we're fearing is not so much specific things but a sort of uncertainty
         and fear of the unkown."

Paragraph 4

Under British rule, Hong Kong residents take freedom of speech for granted. They're allowed to have opinions about politics, and to demonstrate on the streets. China is different. It doesn't allow it's citizens free speech and political demonstrations are banned.

Paragraph 5

Many residents fear that under Chinese rule gatherings like this won't be allowed. Earlier this month, fifty thousand people turned out to call for democracy.

        Lee Cheuk Yan - Rally Organiser.
        "We hope that tonight we have a great turnout to show the support of the
         people of the activities, and then the future authority will think twice before
         they try ban anything of this sort."

Paragraph 6

China and Britain signed an agreement about how Hong Kong should be run for the next fifty years. China said it would guarantee that things stayed the same, but the incoming Chinese leaders of Hong Kong are already planning to make changes. In the early hours of July first they'll bring in new laws that limit political rights and public protest. This has angered Britian so much that it's refusing to go to the handover ceremony. The United States also won't be there.

        Cui Tiankai - Chinese Foreign Ministry:
        "If guests choose not to come that is something they must decide for themselves."

Paragraph 7

There will be forty thousand special guests at the handover ceremony on the night that marks a new era for Hong Kong. It may be only the fortune tellers on the streets of Hong Kong who know what the future holds.


Note:  for questions 1 to 6 only use information from the report. These questions are testing your understanding of this  report, not how much you know about the situation in Hong Kong!
In question 7 you MUST answer with your own opinion.


What do you think the following idioms mean?

a) jam packed (paragraph 1)
b) stressed out (paragraph 2)
c) turned out (paragraph 4)

2. What do the following phrases mean?

a) mixed feelings (paragraph 3)
b) freedom of speech (paragraph 4)

3. How do the people of Hong Kong feel about becoming part of China again? (Give at least 3 examples)

4.What is the ‘handover ceremony’? (paragraph 6)

5. Why did Britain and the United States refuse to go the handover ceremony?

6. What is meant by the phrase "only the fortune tellers on the streets of Hong Kong … know what the future holds?"
(paragraph 7)


7. What do YOU think will happen to Hong Kong under Chinese rule? (Write a paragraph of about 10 - 12 lines or 150 - 200 words).

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