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A trip to glamorous Hong Kong was a distant dream for most Chinese mainlanders in the mid-1990s, but for schoolgirl Tracey Chen in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, it was just a lunchtime stroll.

As Hong Kong loses autonomy after 25 years of Chinese rule, Chen is among many of those in its Mandarin-speaking neighbor who yearn for the days when the former British colony's uniquely exuberant Cantonese culture permeated across the border.

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