Xi Jinping praises Hong Kong’s government under Beijing’s authority

HONG KONG: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday praised Hong Kong’s government since the transfer to Beijing, for which he celebrated its 25th anniversary, and celebrated a “true democracy” there, despite the two-year repression of dissent.

At a ceremony that also included the oath of the new local chief executive, Xi was able to highlight the Chinese Communist Party’s grip on the city following the wave of pro-democracy protests that engulfed the city in 2019, prompting Beijing to carry out a strict political repression there.

In his speech, which John Lee described as “inspiring”, Mr Xi assured that Beijing had always acted “for the benefit of Hong Kong”.

“After the reunification with the motherland, the people of Hong Kong became masters of their own city,” he said, assuring that “true democracy” had begun at that time.

Emily Lau, a former opposition member of the Legislative Council, opposed “real democracy never started in Hong Kong – neither before nor after 1997”, adding that the city had “lost freedom”.

The visit is the Chinese president’s first trip outside mainland China since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is also the first in Hong Kong since the pro-democracy movement in 2019.

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

The city “must get rid of all nuisances and focus on development”.

A good system

This day also marks the culmination of the 50-year period of semi-autonomy, governed by the principle of “one country, two systems”, negotiated between London and Beijing.

Until 2019, July 1 was an opportunity to demonstrate the freedoms that the city enjoys, with thousands of residents marching on the sidelines of the festivities to express their political and social demands.

But this procession, like any assembly, has been banned by the police for two years, officially for health and safety reasons.

According to government critics, the National Security Act, introduced in 2020 by Beijing after the 2019 protests, shattered the promised freedoms.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also lamented on Thursday the “erosion of autonomy” that this law caused in the area. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised not to “give up” Hong Kong.

According to the Quai d’Orsay, “the balance today is very worrying”. “The proliferation of arrests, convictions and pressure against civil society – especially journalists – shows that there is a draconian use of the law on national security,” a spokesman for the ministry confirmed during a meeting.an electronic press briefing.

Criticism ignored by Mr Xi, who on Friday hailed the “one country, two systems” principle as “a good system”, which “must be maintained in the long run”.

The ceremonies were organized in a closed circuit as a hygiene measure.

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People in Xi’s circuit during his trip, including top officials, have been asked to limit contact, undergo daily PCR tests and spend the days leading up to the visit to a quarantine hotel.

Parts of the city have been closed and many journalists have been excluded from planned events.

Authorities have taken steps to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi Jinping’s stay. The National Security Police arrested at least nine people last week.

In the streets of Hong Kong, wet with thunderstorms that hit the city all Friday, Jonathan Yeung, 46, Xi Jinping’s position that the system of “one country, two systems” had no reason to change, was “ridiculous”.

“He is the source of the greatest change,” he said.

The city is lined with posters proclaiming a new era of “stability, prosperity and opportunity”.

Friday had begun with the raising of the colors, with the next top executive John Lee under strong winds attending the ceremony led by soldiers at the goose step to the sound of the national anthem.

Xi, who according to local media spent the night in the adjacent Chinese city of Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, only to return to Hong Kong on Friday morning, did not attend the ceremony.

All events were closed to the public, but small groups had formed nearby.

Liu, 43, who works at a restaurant, took pictures with his phone of helicopters carrying Chinese and Hong Kong flags in the sky.

“Our motherland has taken good care of us and we are grateful,” she said. “I’m hopeful for the next 25 years.”

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