The Chinese ruler Xi Jinping wanted to show this Friday the authority that Beijing exercises by force over Hong Kong, leading the commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the transfer of command of the former British colony, where he stated that democracy “flourishes” despite the repression that silenced dissent.
At the ceremony, which included the installation of the new regime in Hong Kong, Xi exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the city after unleashing a strong crackdown on the local pro-democracy movement.
Since Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020, the opposition has been crushed and most pro-democracy figures have left the citywere marginalized from power or imprisoned.
But in his speech, Xi said that China always acted “for the good of Hong Kong.”
Xi Jinping affirmed on Friday that “there is no reason” to change the principle of “one country, two systems” under which Hong Kong is governed, in a speech to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese hands.
The model is “a good system, there is no reason to change it, and it should be maintained in the long term,” Xi said.
“After reunifying with the motherland, Hong Kongers became masters of their own city,” Xi said. “Hong Kong’s true democracy began at that time.”
This is the first time that Xi has left the Chinese mainland since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, and the first time he has been to Hong Kong since the mass protests in 2019.
Friday’s commemorations began with a flag-raising ceremony at the city’s Victoria Pier, including the passing of military planes and a naval flotilla dropping plumes of water.
Xi was not present. Local media reported that he had spent the night in the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen and returned to Hong Kong. Friday morning.
PRESIDENTIAL SWEARING IN
The new head of the Hong Kong Executive, John Lee was sworn in on Friday in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
After taking office with his cabinet at the Hong Kong Convention Center, Lee, who was the city’s Secretary of Security during the 2019 protests and, last May, elected to his new position by a committee of supporters of Beijing, He assured that his goal is for Hong Kong to become a city “full of vitality and opportunity.”
“Thanks to the support of the central government and the resilience of Hong Kong people, the city has managed to overcome challenges one after another by upholding the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, which is the best guarantee for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity” Lee said, picks up the local press.
Friday also marks the halfway point in the governance model agreed upon by Britain and China, under which the city would retain some autonomy and freedom, known as “One Country, Two Systems.”
The anniversary of the transfer used to be an example of those freedoms in action.
For decades, every July 1, hundreds of thousands of residents gathered to march and express their political and social annoyances.
The principle of “One country, two systems” allows Hong Kong to officially maintain non-existent freedoms in mainland China for 50 years -that is, until 2047-, although in recent years those freedoms have been diminished and judicial processes have followed. against those who organized the massive pro-democracy protests of 2019, against opposition figures or against media outlets critical of Bejing.
Critics say the crackdown, reinforced by a national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, broke China’s promise that Hong Kong would keep its way of life after the handover.
“We made a promise to the territory and its people and we intend to keep it, doing what we can to make sure that China fulfills its commitments,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
In the United States, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken lamented an “erosion of autonomy” in the city, noting that “we stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong and reinforce their calls for the promises of freedom to be reinstated.”
But Xi insisted on Friday that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle is “one good system.”
“There is no reason to change it and it must be maintained in the long term,” Xi said, arguing that it safeguards “the sovereignty, security and development interests” of the city.
Xi’s visit is taking place under a closely monitored closed-circuit system.
Those who enter the orbit of the president, from the children who greeted him at the train station to high-ranking officials, had to limit their social contacts, take daily tests for covid-19 and spend days in quarantine hotels.
The authorities They have also arrested at least nine people in the last week.
to more than ten members and volunteers of the League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of the few remaining opposition groups in Hong Kong, were banned from protesting, and six members of the group said their homes were searched.
But authorities are seeking to present an image of public support for the celebrations, with signs heralding a new era of “stability, prosperity, opportunity” throughout the city.
In the city’s Victoria Park, a soccer field was adorned with a giant Chinese flag alongside a slightly smaller Hong Kong flag.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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