Xi hails China’s rule over Hong Kong at handover anniversary


The city’s main newspapers ran all-red full front pages celebrating the anniversary

President Xi Jinping hailed China’s rule over Hong Kong on Friday as he led 25th anniversary celebrations of the city’s handover from Britain, insisting that democracy was flourishing despite a years-long political crackdown that has silenced dissent.

Xi’s speech was the finale of a two-day victory lap aimed at celebrating the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the once outspoken business hub after authorities stamped out huge democracy protests.

But Xi said Beijing had always acted “for the good of Hong Kong”.

The tightly choreographed trip is the Chinese leader’s first outside of the mainland since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and his first to Hong Kong since the massive protests overwhelmed the city in 2019.

“After all the storms, everyone has painfully learned that Hong Kong can’t fall into chaos and Hong Kong can’t afford chaos,” Xi said. 

– ‘Erosion of autonomy’ –

The anniversary used to be a prime example of those freedoms in action. 

But that rally, like all other mass gatherings and protests in Hong Kong, has been banned for more than two years.

“We made a promise to the territory and its people and we intend to keep it, doing all we can to hold China to its commitments,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.

But Xi insisted that One Country, Two Systems was “a good system”.

– Closed loop –

Those coming into the president’s orbit — from the schoolchildren who welcomed him at the train station to the highest-ranking government officials — were made to take daily PCR tests and spend days in a quarantine hotel. 

Police moved to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi’s time in the city, with national security police making at least nine arrests over the past week, and many of the few remaining opposition groups saying they had been warned off protesting. 

The city’s main newspapers ran all-red full front pages celebrating the anniversary, and pro-Beijing publications ran bumper editions full of advertisements, with the longest running to 188 pages.  

Xi was not present — local media reported he had spent the night in the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen and travelled back into the city on Friday morning. 

Liu, a 43-year-old restaurant worker, was among those who snapped pictures on her phone as the helicopters, trailing massive Chinese and Hong Kong flags, roared past. 

In a nearby eatery, a 35-year-old tech worker surnamed Cheng said he had no special plans to mark the day. 


Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here