Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Hong Kong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s transfer of power from Britain to China. He will also attend the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee on Friday. It is his first visit to Hong Kong in five years.
Xi went to Hong Kong by train with his wife and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The president was received by outgoing leader Lam, school children with flags and a group of dancers and was sung to him. Shortly after his arrival, Xi said the “one country two systems” principle has always worked well and that it is China’s future. “After the storm, Hong Kong has been reborn with fire and tremendous vitality.”
Xi’s plans have not been disclosed, except that he will attend Lee’s swearing-in ceremony on Friday and will likely stay overnight in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.
The Communist Party is expected to organize events that demonstrate its power over Hong Kong. That power has risen sharply since demonstrations against Beijing’s rising influence have been cracked down and protesters have been prosecuted after the introduction of new security law. Residents complain to the AFP news agency about China’s display of power. “Are all those flags on the street necessary? It’s just too much. It works better if people do it on their own.”
Strict corona rules have been put in place around the visit. Parts of Hong Kong have been closed off and leaders in attendance are only allowed to interact with a limited number of people.
During Xi’s last visit to Hong Kong five years ago, large-scale demonstrations were still held. That probably won’t happen in the coming days, because the penalties for such protests are enormous the security law.