Back in 1997, an American journalist named Joseph Kahn could be found in Hong Kong covering Britain’s handover of its former colony to the People’s Republic of China.
Kahn’s account of the post-imperial pomp and circumstance, published in the Wall Street Journal, was a curiously partisan piece of journalism.
On one hand, Kahn managed to be weirdly sympathetic to the communist dictatorship taking over this hitherto-vibrant democracy, at times parroting lines that might have been pinched from its propaganda manual.
‘An ascendant China regained sovereignty over this skyscraper-stacked business colossus with flag-festooned ceremonies amid fireworks, cannon salutes and torrential downpours,’ began his dispatch, before noting that ‘China’s rising status in the world was made clear at the ceremonies’.
On the other hand, Kahn’s article seemed curiously hostile to the departing Brits, or at least to the manner in which America’s oldest ally chose to say goodbye.