Chinese astronauts to visit Hong Kong

Two Chinese astronauts who recently returned from the nation's second manned space mission will arrive in Hong Kong Sunday in an apparent bid to boost national pride in this former British colony. Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng will meet with students, attend variety shows and visit technology facilities during their three-day visit, the government said in a statement late Wednesday.

The two astronauts will be part of a 30-strong delegation that includes commanders and designers of China's aerospace and engineering projects. Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, but many locals are still skeptical of Beijing's authoritarian rule, even though they are governed under a separate, more open political system. After Hong Kong, the delegation will visit former Portuguese colony Macau, the Hong Kong government said.

China's five-day manned space mission last month, its second, is widely regarded as a move by the ruling communist party to declare the nation's status as a rising power and rouse public support for the government, AP reports.

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