| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

China’s Xi to attend Hong Kong handover anniversary

Chinese state media reported on Saturday, that President Xi Jinping is set to visit Hong Kong for a ceremony celebrating 25 years of the city’s handover to China.

“President Xi Jinping will attend a meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland,” the official Xinhua news agency reported. The city was handed over to China on July 1, 1997, after 156 years of British colonial rule.

He will also attend the inauguration of the next Hong Kong administration of Chief Executive John Lee. The Beijing-anointed leader and his ministers will be sworn in on July 1.

Xi’s last visit to the former British colony was in 2017 to swear in outgoing city leader Carrie Lam.

The Chinese president has avoided travel outside of mainland China since he visited Myanmar in January 2020, shortly before acknowledging the severity of COVID-19 and imposing strict lockdowns.

Hong Kong crackdown
The anniversary celebrations follow turbulent months during which the global financial hub was roiled by mass pro-democracy protests.

Political tensions have also risen as people struggle with soaring living costs in one of the most densely populated places in the world.

In a stringent crackdown to crush the sometimes-violent protests, activists were arrested and sentenced to prison, and Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy newspaper was shut down
The city also sentenced Hong Kong’s 90-year-old former Roman Catholic bishop, Joseph Zen, to prison time.

These actions were aided by a sweeping security lawthat criminalized dissent.

The crackdown has added to the tension between Beijing and the United States, Europe, Japan and other Asian governments.

COVID concerns
Earlier, coronavirus outbreaks in both mainland China and Hong Kong had prompted doubts over whether Xi would risk traveling to the city, with Beijing committed to its zero-COVID strategy.

Hong Kong has its own version of the zero-COVID strategy, which has kept the international business hub isolated for much of the pandemic. Outgoing city leader Carrie Lam said the currrent situation was “not an alarm bell.” Hospitalizations have remained low even though daily case numbers have climbed to nearly 2,000.

  • DW