October 1, 2023

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Hong Kong rolls out massive security measures as Xi swears in on new leader

Hong Kong rolls out massive security measures as Xi swears in on new leader

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Authorities deployed a massive security force across Hong Kong on Friday as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepared to be sworn in as the city’s new leader and attend celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to Beijing.

Red lanterns and posters declaring a “new era” of stability decorated the main roads and walkways near the convention center where the last colonial ruler, Chris Patten, returned Hong Kong to China in a rain-soaked celebration in 1997.

At 8 a.m. (0000 GMT), a group of officials gathered next to Victoria Harbor for a flag-raising ceremony in highly explosive conditions as the city experienced its first cyclone of the year. Helicopters hovered over the port, hanging flags of China and Hong Kong.

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Xi did not attend the flag-raising event, with media reporting that he stayed overnight across the border in Shenzhen after arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday. He is due to return to the Financial Center early Friday to swear the city’s new leader, John Lee.

Some analysts see Xi’s visit as a round of victory after Beijing tightened its control over Hong Kong with a sweeping national security law, following mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

After arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday, Xi said the city had overcome its challenges and “rose from the ashes”. Read more

Hong Kong’s former security chief, John Lee, who has been sanctioned by the United States for his role in implementing a new national security law, is taking charge at a time when the global financial center faces a mass exodus of people and talent amid some of the toughest coronavirus cases. -19 restrictions in the world.

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Xi’s trip to Hong Kong is his first since 2017, when he swore to Carrie Lam, the city’s first female president, who has overseen some of the territory’s most turbulent times marked by anti-government protests in 2019 and the COVID pandemic.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula that guaranteed a broad scope of autonomy and judicial independence not seen in mainland China.

Government critics, including Western countries, accuse the authorities of assaulting those freedoms that Beijing and Hong Kong reject.

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(Reporting by Anne Marie Rowntree) Editing by Lincoln Fest.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.