Advertisement

Xi Jinping returns to Hong Kong for first trip outside of mainland China in two years

Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of its return from British rule and to inaugurate the administration of its new chief executive, John Lee.File Photo by Felix Wong/EPA-EFE
Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of its return from British rule and to inaugurate the administration of its new chief executive, John Lee.File Photo by Felix Wong/EPA-EFE

June 30 (UPI) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Hong Kong on Thursday, leaving mainland China for the first time since 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the island's return from British rule.

Xi, who was returning to Hong Kong for the first time since a wave of pro-democracy protests rocked the region in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, praised the semi-autonomous city for its resilience.

Advertisement

"Hong Kong has withstood severe tests time and time again," he said in brief remarks after his arrival. "After ups and downs, Hong Kong has risen from the ashes and showed vigorous vitality."

While the visit was scheduled to last two days, Xi is not expected to remain in Hong Kong overnight as the island has significantly more COVID-19 cases than the mainland, which adheres to a strict "zero-COVID" policy.

RELATED China rebukes NATO for singling out Beijing in latest security threat guide

On his arrival, Xi was greeted with Lion Dancers and billboards that read "A New Era: Stability, Prosperity, Opportunity" while surrounded by a high level of security meant to keep protesters away.

During his remarks, Xi touted the "One Country, Two Systems" pledge that allows Hong Kong to maintain its autonomy and capitalist system.

Advertisement

"One Country, Two Systems has strong vitality," Xi said. "It can ensure Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability."

RELATED U.S. blacklists five Chinese companies over alleged Russian support

When Xi visited Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese control in 2017 he warned that "any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government" or to "use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible."

The protests that swept throughout the city in 2019 crossed that red line in Xi's view and Hong Kong has been under a strict security law that criminalizes secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism and working with foreign agencies to undermine its national security for the past two years.

Xi's trip to Hong Kong also saw him inaugurate the administration of John Lee, the Hong Kong security secretary and Beijing loyalist who led the response to the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

RELATED FCC commissioner again calls on Apple, Google to block TikTok

Lee, who begins his five-year term Friday, plans to push through Article 23, a package that includes new laws on treason, secession, sedition and subversion required by Hong Kong's mini-constitution that have been blocked from being passed into law by protests.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement