January 20, 2019

China’s Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong for handover anniversary

016Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Hong Kong to mark 20 years since the territory was handed back to China by Britain.
The highly symbolic visit, Mr Xi’s first since becoming leader in 2012, comes amid an increasingly tense political climate.
Official celebrations are planned, as well as large protests from pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps.
Several well-known activists were arrested on the eve of Mr Xi’s arrival.
The group, which included student leader Joshua Wong, had staged a protest at an iconic sculpture symbolising the handover.
The golden sculpture of a bauhinia flower – Hong Kong’s emblem – by the city’s harbour was a gift from China.
Mr Xi arrived for the three-day visit with his wife Peng Liyuan at the city’s main Chek Lap Kok airport. The couple were welcomed by a marching band and children waving flags.
In a brief speech on the tarmac, he said Hong Kong was “always in my heart”.
Beijing’s central government “has always been a strong backer of Hong Kong” and “will, as always, support Hong Kong’s economic development and improvement of people’s lives”.
He also said Beijing was “willing to work with all sectors of Hong Kong’s society in maintaining Hong Kong’s extraordinary journey these past 20 years”, and would “ensure ‘one country, two systems’ will continue with stability”.
The city was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Beijing agreed to govern it under “one country, two systems”, granting the city its own legal system, limited democracy with multiple political parties, and rights like freedom of assembly and free speech.
But China’s growing influence has been met with unease and concerns that the mainland could undermine Hong Kong’s more politically liberal traditions.
Activists have been campaigning for years for Hong Kong to have more political freedom.

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