Chinese language and Hong Kong flags fluttered above streets and purple celebratory banners lined the harbor entrance, as hundreds of Hong Kong police guarded the town’s high-speed rail terminus, through the arrival of Chinese language chief Xi Jinping yesterday.
In his first journey exterior mainland China for the reason that begin of the pandemic, Xi is in to Hong Kong to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of its return to Chinese language rule — a extremely symbolic occasion at a pivotal time for each the town, and Xi himself.
The previous British colony is halfway by the 50-year promise of “a excessive diploma of autonomy,” given by Beijing beneath a framework referred to as “one nation, two techniques.” It is usually swearing in its newly appointed chief, hardline former police officer John Lee.
Xi, in the meantime, is simply months away from ending his first decade in energy — and is broadly anticipated to hunt an unprecedented third time period at a key assembly of the ruling Communist Get together this fall.
The 2-day journey is a well timed declaration of political victory for Xi, who has introduced Hong Kong to heel with a sweeping nationwide safety regulation following the 2019 anti-government protests. In simply two years, critics say, the regulation has been used to crush the town’s opposition motion, overhaul its electoral system, silence its outspoken media and cripple its once-vibrant civil society.
The Hong Kong authorities has repeatedly denied the nationwide safety regulation is suppressing freedoms. As an alternative, it insists the regulation has ended chaos and restored stability to the town.
For an authoritarian chief obsessive about stability, Hong Kong might now really feel extra like dwelling than ever. Not like his earlier visits to the town, Xi not wants to fret about any public expression of dissent — be it crucial headlines on native newspaper entrance pages, protest slogans on billboards or mass rallies within the streets.
As an alternative, he’s surrounded by solely “patriotic” officers, loyal tycoons and a blanket of heavy safety measures — together with in depth roadblocks and a citywide ban on drones. He’s additionally separated from the general public by a meticulously maintained “closed loop” system — put in place to guard him towards the town’s rising Covid-19 infections.
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