Chinese Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong to celebrate delivery anniversary

Placeholder while loading article actions

HONG KONG – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday ventured outside mainland China for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic to attend the conference. The 25th Anniversary of the Handover of Hong Kong From British rule to Chinese rule.

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, got off a train at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Station, a terminus of the high-speed line that connects mainland China to the territory. They were greeted on the stage by young people and children waving China and Hong Kong flags and chanting “a warm welcome” in Mandarin Chinese, rather than the Cantonese language traditionally used in the city.

For Xi, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who is expected to assume an unprecedented third term later this year, the measures are an opportunity to consolidate personal power over the Chinese Communist Party by declaring the nation stronger and more united. under his rule.

But for many in Hong Kong, the midway point of the 50-year period in which the city’s “high degree of autonomy” has been guaranteed under a mechanism known as “one country, two systems” is a time of mourning for erosion of freedoms It dashed hopes for a more democratic future.

Beijing’s handpicked candidate for Hong Kong indicates tighter control

“After the uprising and protests in 2019 and 2020, the Beijing government wants to portray that everything is under control — the opposition and the rebel elements have been eliminated,” said Ho-fung Hung, a professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a victory lap, and Xi Jinping will try to portray him as the one who achieved the so-called ‘second return’ to Hong Kong.”

The crushing of pro-democracy protests has strained Beijing’s relationship with the city’s youth and with many Western governments. But for the Chinese Communist Party, which values ​​its political control and the nation’s territorial integrity above all else, breaking through decades of inaction and resistance to the passage of national security legislation for Hong Kong is a significant achievement.

See also  Live Covid-19 updates: mask mandates, vaccines and more

Chinese scholars are beginning to talk about the “second return” of Hong Kong. Zheng Yongnian is an influential political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong government media The first years of Chinese rule after 1997 were “sovereignty without the power of governance”. But something else.

Cheng said the National Security Law was a good start but only the beginning of the “reconstruction” that Hong Kong’s political system must go through as it “moves from radical democracy towards a form of democracy more appropriate to Hong Kong’s culture, class and social structure.”

High on the agenda for the new CEO John LeeThe head of politics who oversaw the suppression of the protests will have to fulfill Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, which requires him to enact laws banning treason, secession, sedition and subversion. Such legislation was suspended in 2003 after mass protests.

But Xi’s ambitions go beyond policing and legal reforms to sweeping changes in the country education The community designed to build support for the CCP base.

Accepting a Beijing-designed future may be the hardest among the generation born around extradition, which expected more democratic freedoms and was introduced into local politics through protests against the overtures from Beijing.

25 years of China’s takeover of Hong Kong, in pictures

“When I was young, I didn’t know what universal suffrage was, but later after experiencing the Umbrella Revolution, I changed my mind,” said Coco O, 25, a graduate student in law, referring to 2014. Protests targeting changes Hong Kong’s electoral system that allowed Beijing to screen political candidates in advance.

Many people born in 1997 feel betrayed. Jeff Yao, 25, grew up feeling the delivery was a happy event, but recently he has become fearful for the city’s future. “I feel a little suffocated and I feel that Hong Kong is less open than Western countries,” he said.

See also  Venezuelan Vice President meets Russia's "good friend" Lavrov

Despite the jubilant tone in Chinese state media ahead of Friday’s festivities, there are indications that Xi remains uneasy about Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong. Local media, citing anonymous government sources, reported that Xi will not spend the night in the city and will instead travel across the mainland border to Shenzhen after a dinner with outgoing CEO Carrie Lam, and return to Hong Kong on Friday morning. Ceremony appointing Lee, the former police chief who will replace her.

Much of Hong Kong has been closed to ensure the visit goes smoothly. Long, water-filled parapets line the streets near the exhibition center where the festivities will take place. The legislature has canceled its weekly meeting so lawmakers can quarantine and meet strict coronavirus restrictions on festivities. Police banned drones across Hong Kong during the visit.

At least 10 journalists from domestic and foreign media Banned from covering the sessions, according to the South China Morning Post. The League of Social Democrats, a pro-democracy political organization, said on Tuesday it would not protest on July 1 after the National Security Police summoned its volunteers. “The situation is very difficult, please understand,” the group said in a statement to its supporters.

For the older generation in Hong Kong, 1997 was also a very mysterious time. Claudia Tang, 59, left town for Australia at the time expecting to emigrate but later returned. She is now widely optimistic about Hong Kong’s future, despite Beijing’s dominance.

“I feel patriotic education is a good thing. Many young people do not understand what ‘one country, two systems’ means,” she said.

This confusion may be in part because interpretations of China have changed over time. The reign of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has gone from pre-1997 promises that “Hong Kong’s horses will continue to race and dance” after the handover. These views were replaced by Xi’s, as stated on the twentieth anniversary of the handover, that “one country” constitutes the deep roots of the “advanced” system of government, first of all, to achieve and uphold national unity.

See also  US envoy to the United Nations denounces reports of Ukrainians being deported to Russia

Hong Kong churches no longer banned as Beijing tightens grip on dissent

The establishment of the “one country, two systems” formula that supported the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 is one of the defining achievements of Deng’s leadership. Until today, Chinese state media Features regularly Videos of Deng waving a finger at then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher while declaring that Hong Kong’s sovereignty was not up for discussion.

Xi resoundingly answered many questions about Hong Kong’s future that Deng left unanswered, often by imposing the Chinese Communist Party’s interpretations of history on the territory. Recently, Hong Kong officials revised high school textbooks to teach the party’s position that the territory was not in fact a British colony; It was only illegally occupied.

At Monday’s event, Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, argued that there was little the UK could do in the lead-up to 1997 to avoid Hong Kong’s last repressive turn, “because the real story about Hong Kong today is about Xi Jinping’s choice.” as the leader of China.

At the time, Patten added, Hong Kong’s handover was seen as a “canary down the mine” to test whether the Chinese regime would prove brutally self-interested or trustworthy in international affairs, but that question has now been answered. “The canaries have been suffocated as much as they can manage,” he said.

Even in 1997, Ken Lamm, 50, who works in logistics, guessed more crackdowns were coming but was unable to leave at the time and became resigned to the city’s fate. “Now I have the ability to leave but a part of me also wants to stay and watch how worse Hong Kong can become. After all, this place is where I grew up.”

Reported sponsor from Taipei, Taiwan. Lyric Lee from Seoul contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.