As Xi Jinping, China’s chief, visits Hong Kong to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of the handover from Britain, he arrives in a metropolis vastly remodeled from three years in the past, when tens of millions took to the streets within the greatest problem to Beijing’s rule in many years.
Mr. Xi’s ruling Communist Party quashed that problem by tightening its grip. The authorities arrested hundreds of protesters and activists, imposed a nationwide safety legislation that silenced dissent and rewrote electoral guidelines to close out critics of Beijing.
“This is a significant trip for him,” mentioned John P. Burns, an emeritus professor of politics on the University of Hong Kong. “Of course, this is about celebrating the 25th anniversary and all of that, but he is also declaring victory over the pan-democratic opposition and their supporters.”
On Friday Mr. Xi put in a handpicked former safety official as town’s subsequent chief. He had earlier met with lawmakers chosen after Beijing’s electoral overhaul ensured solely “patriots” may take workplace in Hong Kong.
“Political power must be in the hands of patriots,” Mr. Xi mentioned in a speech on Friday after overseeing the brand new authorities’s swearing-in ceremony. “No country or region in the world will allow unpatriotic or even traitorous or treasonous forces and figures to take power.”
Hong Kong and Chinese officers attended a transient ceremony Friday morning the place a police honor guard raised the flags of China and Hong Kong to mark the anniversary. A robust wind blew, and the skies have been overcast and threatening rain. A authorities helicopter with a giant Chinese flag, adopted by one other with a smaller Hong Kong flag, flew down Victoria Harbor because the ceremony was held at 8 a.m., adopted by a fireplace division boat spraying water from its hoses.
But the pomp and ceremony was a stark distinction to the relative quiet on the streets beneath a pronounced safety presence. Groups of police patrolled neighborhoods close to the venue of the ceremony, and rows of police vans lined the entrances to a number of subway stations. To many residents of Hong Kong, the handover anniversary and Mr. Xi’s go to held little significance in addition to a day without work.
“The central government doesn’t have to do much for Hong Kong. Just let Hong Kong fix things by itself. It’s a free economy right? It wasn’t under much governance before,” mentioned Joeson Kwak, a 33-year-old inside design contractor who was within the district of Wanchai getting breakfast. “I don’t feel anything special today. I’m happy I don’t have to go to work today.”
Mr. Xi’s go to is as a lot a message supposed to strengthen Beijing’s rule over Hong Kong to town’s 7.5 million residents as it’s a message of defiance to the Western governments that had denounced his crackdown. The United States, Britain and different nations have accused China of breaking its guarantees to permit Hong Kong to protect its protections for particular person rights for 50 years beneath an association often called one nation, two methods.
Subduing Hong Kong additionally has private significance for Mr. Xi. It will assist burnish his standing among the many Communist Party elite at a key second as he pursues a third five-year time period in workplace, which he’s broadly anticipated to safe later this 12 months.
“We can expect at the party congress in October he will highlight the success of one country, two systems,” mentioned Sonny Lo, a Hong Kong political commentator.
To native activists, July 1 has been an anniversary of pivotal demonstrations. But a mixture of pandemic restrictions and the political crackdown has largely eradicated such gatherings. One leftist group, the League of Social Democrats, had continued to mark important dates with small demonstrations of simply 4 folks, which is technically allowed beneath social distancing guidelines.
But after visits from nationwide safety police, the group introduced this week it might not maintain a protest on Friday. Members of the group have been beneath fixed surveillance and their group was threatened with closure in the event that they tried to exhibit, mentioned Avery Ng, the group’s secretary normal.
“It is just like China,” he mentioned.