Xi visits Hong Kong in first trip outside mainland in two years

Beijing, Jun 30 (EFE).- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday landed in Hong Kong on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the former British colony returning to the Chinese fold, marking the leader’s first visit outside mainland China since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

Xi arrived in Hong Kong to celebrate the anniversary, which marks the halfway point in the city’s planned transition from a British colony to a fully integrated Chinese territory, a day before he is set to attend the swearing-in of the new chief executive, John Lee.

In a brief speech, the Chinese president said that in recent years Hong Kong had overcome serious challenges one after the other, referring to pro-democracy protests that rocked the region in 2019 and grew increasing violent.

China crushed the protests with a controversial security law that resulted in the most popular activists of the pro-democracy movement ending up in prison or going into self-exile.

“After the storm, Hong Kong has been reborn from the ashes, showing vigor and vitality,” said the leader, who arrived in the city amid strict security arrangements on the streets.

The major activist groups of Hong Kong had already announced that they would not gather for protests, as many of their members are under state surveillance in their homes.

Xi said that in the five years since he last visited the former British colony – on the occasion of the outgoing chief executive Carrie Lam assuming office – he had continued to pay attention to the region.

Ahead of meeting local businessmen in the evening, the leader insisted that as long as the “one country two systems” model that governs the semi-autonomous region is unfailingly protected, “the future will surely be brighter.”

He added that Hong Kong would make new and greater contributions in the rise of the Chinese nation.

Xi is expected to set to China’s border city of Shenzhen to stay the night, before returning on Friday for events related to the anniversary and the swearing-in of Lee and his cabinet. EFE


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