The recent sinking of the Jumbo, Hong Kong’s famous and historic floating restaurant in the South China Sea, came as a blow to Hong Kongers who considered it an important part of their lives.

According to Breitbart, generation after generation of Hong Kongers have passed through the floating imperial palace since 1976 to celebrate large family gatherings and close successful business deals, tasting Cantonese food.

Writer, Louisa Lim, wrote on Twitter, “Going to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant was the good-report-treat of my childhood, an annual ritual for my family. Such a sad moment to see its departure from Hong Kong.”

“it seems as if its most visible symbols are all disappearing one by one,” “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong,” The New York Times reported.

The tragic event dismayed citizens, who felt that the sinking marked the beginning of an uncertain future for Hong Kong following the infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Some Hong Kongers link the sinking of the famous historic restaurant to the fate that awaits Hong Kong, CNN reported via RTHK.

For example, artist Ah To, a political cartoonist who was forced to emigrate from Hong Kong, posted a cartoon on his social network which shows the Jumbo sinking into the sea, and two statues can be seen in the image. One shows a blindfolded woman holding the scale of justice, and the other is a woman holding a torch resembling the Goddess of Democracy, a symbol removed from a Hong Kong university campus in 2021, The New York Times reported.

Also, other residents described the terrible loss as a “nail in the coffin” for the island; others called it a “burial at sea.”

Surrealist artist Tommy Fung also portrayed the wreck of the historic restaurant as a tragic scene, according to HKFP.

The sinking of the Jumbo saddened residents who felt ignored by the CCP after several requests to preserve what they considered was a cultural part of the heritage of Hong Kong society.

In 2020, when the floating palace was suffering nearly irreparable losses because of pandemic restrictions on restaurants and tourism, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said, at the time, that it could not sustain the cost of maintenance and inspection and offered to donate the Jumbo to a local theme park, free of charge, The New York Times reported.

That same year, former Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said the government would cooperate with the theme park in “the rebirth of the floating restaurant.” But the plan fell through, and Lam said in May that the government would not invest taxpayers’ money in a restaurant that had accumulated losses.

In the end, the CCP did not rescue the iconic site despite requests, including from several Hong Kong legislators.

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, vice chairman of the Third Side political party, urged the Hong Kong government to investigate the incident and release more information about the loss of the ship, South China Morning Post reported.

“We feel pity about this incident … We call on the government to reveal whether marine officials had already got hold of its destination and the sea routes, and to probe why such a structure with high heritage value would sink into the deep sea,”

Causes and suspicions of Jumbo sinking

On June 18, the restaurant encountered “adverse conditions” while passing the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea, and water entered the vessel, leaving it wholly submerged, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd., the company that owns the Jumbo restaurant, told AP.

“As the water depth at the scene is over 1,000 meters, (it makes it) extremely difficult to carry out salvage works,” the company said in a statement.

CNN reported that the 46-year-old restaurant would be towed for repairs and moved to a lower maintenance cost location.

The Jumbo was checked by marine engineers who provided “all relevant approvals,” the company said in the statement, BBC reported.

On the other hand, the JAEWON 9 company that towed the Jumbo out of Hong Kong until its demise also transported a ship that sank in 2021, raising suspicions,  HKFP reported.

The vessel that towed JAEWON 9 was bound from Hong Kong to South Korea, but the ship allegedly sank after the tow line connecting them broke, and due to bad weather, they could not pull it out of the sea the ship was wrecked. However, it was “recognized as a total loss” by insurance, said FleetMon, the global ship database.

Apparently, on June 14, two vessels operated by Yun Lee Marine Group Holdings towed the floating restaurant Jumbo out of Aberdeen harbor before handing it over to JAEWON 9 to take it to the open sea.

In addition, they reported that they saw the JAEWON 9 vessel make a U-turn when the Jumbo floating restaurant sank. The tugboat was west of the Xisha Islands just before 9 p.m., June 18.

Strangely, the Hong Kong Marine Department also said it did not know about the sinking of the Jumbo until the restaurant managers notified them.

Distrust about the causes of the irreparable fate of the floating palace increased, especially in a context without justice and where repression, censorship, and imprisonment are carried out following the imposition of the CCP’s national security law.

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