Hong Kong: Does Chek Lap Kok Airport Need a New Name?

Daily Feature

Gordon Andreassand, Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Historical Aviation Association, thinks that Hong Kong International Airport, a.k.a. Chek Lap Kok, needs a name change.

Gordon is among a small group of aviation enthusiasts that would like to see Chek Lap Kok which, admittedly, is a bit of a tongue twister for English language speakers, changed to Sun Yat-sen International Airport.

First, they argue, Sun Yat-sen (pictured), as the father of modern China, should be honoured by having an airport named after him – especially because he is one of the few figures revered on both sides of the Taiwan Straits – and among Chinese people living overseas. To strengthen their argument, they point out that Sun Yat-sen was the first person in China to build an airplane.

“Not just the father of the nation, you could say that [Sun Yat-sen] was also the father of aviation in China,” Gordon says.

So why Hong Kong, where Sun studied medicine, and not Guangzhou? Sun was born in a village in Guangdong Province, not far from the provincial capital. So wouldn’t Guangzhou be a more logical choice if an airport is to be named after him?

Or perhaps Nanjing, where the Chinese Nationalists established their capital – or Chongqing, where they moved their capital during the second world war?

Letters to the Editor

The issue has attracted interest. Jack Spade of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon wrote to the South China Morning Post arguing that while “politically correct,” renaming Hong Kong International Airport after Sun Yat-sen was a bit “near sighted” because “the outside world does not readily identify Sun Yat-sen with Hong Kong”.

Jack believes that there is only “one person who has achieved the necessary worldwide recognition to be branded together with our international airport”, and that person is Kung Fu movie icon Bruce Lee.

Okay, well what about Jackie Chan? He also has a worldwide following, and he is also closely identified with Hong Kong.

Chairman Mao

Rob Dingwall of Benitses, Corfu, Greece, wrote to the same newspaper suggesting that the name should be changed to “something that fits the bill and is relevant to Hong Kong”, and that something is “Mao Zedong rather than Sun Yat-sen”.

“The recent history of Hong Kong and China as a whole has been shaped by Mao,” Rob writes. “It would be false modesty or hypocrisy to pretend otherwise.”

Sorry, Rob, but I don’t follow your logic. At least Sun studied in Hong Kong. Mao never even set foot in the place.

His primary impact on Hong Kong was that his disastrous policies in the 1950s and 60s resulted in hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the mainland for Hong Kong. So, yes, he DID help shape Hong Kong, but not in a way that would warrent having an airport here named after him.

If an airport were to be named after Mao, the logical choices would have to be either Beijing, where he established his capital, or somewhere in Hunan Province, where he was born, but certainly not Hong Kong. 

Top 10 Possible Names for Hong Kong International Airport

  1. Sun Yat-sen International Airport – he was the father of Modern China, he built the country’s first airplane, and he is revered by all Chinese.
  2. Bruce Lee International Airport – he was Hong Kong’s first internationally acclaimed film star.
  3. Jackie Chan International Airport – he is a world famous actor that is widely associated with Hong Kong.
  4. Chris Patten International Airport – he was Hong Kong’s last governor and was hugely popular – in Hong Kong, at least.
  5. Victoria International Airport – we’ve got Victoria Harbour, Victoria Peak, and Victoria Park. Why not Victoria Airport?
  6. Mao Zedong International Airport – sorry but I don’t get the connection.
  7. Tung Chee-hwa International Airport – he was Hong Kong’s first Chinese chief executive, but not very popular.
  8. Chek Lap Kok – let’s leave well enough alone.
  9. Bauhinia International Airport – Oh, what a charming name. The bauhinia flower has been our symbol since the handover. It graces our coins and our stamps, why not our airport?  
  10. Li Ka-shing International Airport – Li Ka-shing has buildings all over town named after him. If we put this out to public tender, KS would surely pay big bucks to have our airport named after him. Perhaps enough, even, to pay for that third runway!

Feedback Wanted

Would love to hear your thoughts on the naming issue. You can leave comments in the comment box (below) or by sending an email to the following address: Accidental Travel Writer Feedback.


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