governance of Hong Kong under the authority of Beijing” />
Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, John Lee, on the 25th anniversary of the former British colony's return to China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday praised Hong Kong's governance since its handover to Beijing, the 25th anniversary of which he celebrated, hailing “true democracy” there despite the two-year crackdown on dissent.
At a ceremony that also included the swearing in of the new local chief executive, Mr. Xi was able to highlight the Chinese Communist Party's grip on the city after the wave of pro-democracy protests that ignited the city. city in 2019, prompting Beijing to carry out a harsh political crackdown there.
In his speech, which John Lee called inspirational, Xi said Beijing had always acted for the good of Hong Kong.
After the reunification with the motherland, the people of Hong Kong became the masters of their own city, he said, assuring that real democracy had started at that time.
Emily Lau, a former opposition member of the Legislative Council, retorted that true democracy never started in Hong Kong, neither before nor after 1997, adding that the city had however lost freedoms.
The visit is the Chinese president's first trip outside mainland China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also the first in Hong Kong since the 2019 pro-democracy movement.
“After all the storms, everyone has painfully learned that Hong Kong does not cannot descend into chaos and that Hong Kong cannot afford chaos.
—Chinese President Xi Jinping
The city should get rid of all nuisances and focus on development.
Today also marks the midpoint of the 50-year period of semi-autonomy, guided by the principle of one country, two systems, negotiated between London and Beijing.
Until 2019, July 1 was an opportunity to demonstrate the freedoms enjoyed by the city with thousands of inhabitants who marched on the sidelines of the celebrations to express their political and social demands .
However, this procession, like any gathering, has been banned by the police for two years, officially for health and safety reasons.
According to government critics, the national security law imposed in 2020 by Beijing after the 2019 protests shattered the promised freedoms.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday lamented the erosion of autonomy caused by this law in the territory. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has meanwhile promised not to abandon Hong Kong.
According to the Quai d'Orsay, the results today are very worrying.
“The increase in arrests, convictions and pressure exerted against civil society – notably journalists – shows that; there is a liberticidal use of the law on national security. »
— A spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
These are all criticisms that Mr. Xi shrugged off, who on Friday hailed the principle of one country, two systems as a good system that must be maintained in the long term.
The ceremonies were organized in a closed circuit system as a sanitary measure.
People in Mr. Xi's orbit during his trip, including top government officials, have been told to limit contact, undergo daily PCR tests and spend the days before the visit to a quarantine hotel.
Some parts of the city have been closed and many journalists have been banned from the planned activities.
Authorities have taken steps to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi Jinping's stay. National Security Police arrested at least nine people last week.
In the streets of Hong Kong, wet from thunderstorms that battered the city all day Friday, Jonathan Yeung, 46, said Xi Jinping's position that the one country, two systems had no reason to change is laughable.
He is at the origin of the greatest changes, he launched.
The city is plastered with posters proclaiming a new era of stability, prosperity and opportunity.
Friday began as the colors rose where, under a strong winds, the next Chief Executive John Lee attended the ceremony led by military goose step and the sound of the national anthem.
Mr Xi – who according to local media spent the night in the neighboring mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, only to return to Hong Kong on Friday morning – did not attend the ceremony.< /p>
All activities were closed to the public, but small groups had formed nearby.
With his phone, Liu, 43, who works in a restaurant, was taking photos of helicopters dragging Chinese and Hong Kong flags across the sky.
Our motherland took good care of us and we thank her. are recognized health, she said. I'm hopeful for the next 25 years.