Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong to mark China’s ‘global jurisdiction’ 25 years after handover to UK
hong kong – Chinese leader Xi Jinping celebrated the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return on Friday in a speech highlighting Beijing’s overall control over the former British colony as part of his vision of the “one country, two systems” framework – countering the criticisms that political and civic liberties promised for the next quarter century were all but erased under Chinese rule.
Xi praised the city for overcoming “violent social unrest” – a reference to the massive 2019 pro-democracy movement that was followed by a Beijing-led crackdown that stifled dissent and shut down independent media, aligning more closely Hong Kong on tighter controls under China’s ruling Communist Party.
Xi warned that there would be no tolerance for foreign interference or traitors meddling in Hong Kong affairs. He said “safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests” is of the highest priority.
“No one in any country or region of the world will allow foreign countries or even treacherous forces and personalities to take power,” Xi said, adding that only by having patriots ruling Hong Kong will it will be able to ensure long-term stability.
Beijing claims “global jurisdiction”
He said the framework that promised Hong Kong its own laws and government for 50 years after Britain handed over in 1997 was still a good system that “must be maintained for a long time”.
But he also said that Beijing has “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and that Hong Kong should respect Chinese leadership, even if Beijing allows regions like Hong Kong and neighboring Macau to maintain their capitalist system and a certain degree of autonomy.
“After returning to the motherland, Hong Kong has overcome all kinds of challenges and made steady progress,” Xi said. “Whether it is the international financial crisis, theor violent social unrest, nothing has stopped Hong Kong’s progress.”
Since the 2019 protests, authorities haves, media personalities and pro-democracy supporters. They introduced a more “patriotic” curriculum in schools and revamped election laws to keep opposition politicians deemed not patriotic enough out of the city legislature. The changes virtually eliminated dissenting voices and caused many to leave town.
In his view, the Chinese Communist Party has restored stability to a city that has been ravaged by protests seen as a direct challenge to its rule. For Western democracies, Xi has undermined the freedoms and way of life that set the city apart from mainland China and turned it into a global hub of finance and trade.
US says China ‘undermined fundamental freedoms’
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement that the dismantling of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and pressure on its justice system, tighter controls on academic freedom and press and the dismantling of civil society groups and news outlets, had “undermined fundamental freedoms to preserve global stability.”
She said China’s policies towards Hong Kong, including the implementation of the national security law, have “shaken the institutions, rules and systems that had been the basis of international trust in Hong Kong. Kong”.
“We call on the PRC to act in accordance with the international obligations it has voluntarily undertaken,” Watson said.
Xi’s two-day trip to Hong Kong is his first outside mainland China since the pandemic took hold in January 2020. He last visited Hong Kong in 2017 for handover celebrations to be able to.
Security in Hong Kong has been tightened for his arrival, with designated no-fly and no-fly zones. Thousands of guests had to take daily coronavirus tests and were ordered to check into quarantine hotels ahead of attending events with Xi on Thursday and Friday.
Xi also presided over the swearing-in ceremony for Hong Kong’s new leader, John Lee, a former security official who oversaw a crackdown on dissent. Lee pledged to abide by the city’s mini-constitution and pledge allegiance to Hong Kong. He also pledged to be accountable to the central government in Beijing.
Likely to “reflect” the continent
“The next five years will be a crucial time for Hong Kong to move from governance to prosperity,” Lee said.
He has previously indicated his intention to enact Section 23 into the city’s basic law. These are local laws to protect the Chinese government from acts that threaten national security, such as treason, secession, sedition, subversion and foreign collusion.
A similar initiative had to be scrapped after massive protests in 2003.
Amnesty International warned that Lee’s plans to enact laws governing state secrets and cybersecurity “will likely mirror similar laws in mainland China.”
“The extremely broad definition of these laws facilitates arbitrary application, a fact that creates even more uncertainty and fear for Hong Kong people,” said the watchdog’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Erwin. van der Borght, in a statement.
In an early morning flag-raising ceremony – attended by Lee, his predecessor Carrie Lam and other officials but no Xi – police carrying the Chinese and Hong Kong flags marched to Golden Bauhinia Square for the ceremony with the Chinese style of the “goose step”. replacing an English walk. Guests stood to attention as the Chinese national anthem was played.