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As Xi Jinping, China’s chief, visits Hong Kong to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of Britain’s handover of energy, he arrives in a metropolis a lot reworked from three years in the past, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets within the greatest problem to the federal government. of Beijing in many years.

Xi’s ruling Communist Occasion quashed that problem by tightening its grip. Authorities arrested 1000’s of protesters and activists, imposed a nationwide safety legislation that silenced dissent, and rewrote election guidelines to exclude critics of Beijing.

“This is a vital journey for him,” mentioned John P. Burns, emeritus professor of politics on the College of Hong Kong. “After all, it is about celebrating the twenty fifth anniversary and all that, but it surely’s additionally declaring victory over the pan-democratic opposition and their supporters.”

On Friday, Xi put in a handpicked former safety official as town’s subsequent chief. He had beforehand met with chosen lawmakers after Beijing’s electoral reform ensured that solely “patriots” might take workplace in Hong Kong.

“Political energy have to be within the fingers of patriots,” Xi mentioned in a speech on Friday after overseeing the swearing-in ceremony for the brand new authorities. “No nation or area on the planet will permit unpatriotic and even treacherous or treacherous forces and figures to take energy.”

Officers from Hong Kong and China attended a quick ceremony Friday morning wherein a police honor guard raised Chinese language and Hong Kong flags to mark the anniversary. A powerful wind was blowing and the sky was cloudy and threatened with rain. A authorities helicopter with a big Chinese language flag, adopted by one other with a smaller Hong Kong flag, flew over Victoria Harbor because the ceremony came about at 8 a.m., adopted by a hearth division boat spraying water along with your hoses.

However the pomp and ceremony contrasted with the relative quiet of the streets underneath a pronounced safety presence. Teams of police patrolled the neighborhoods close to the ceremony website and contours of police vans lined the entrances of a number of subway stations. For a lot of Hong Kong residents, the anniversary of Xi’s handover and go to was of little significance aside from a time off.

“The central authorities would not need to do a lot for Hong Kong. Let Hong Kong kind issues out for itself. It is a free economic system, proper? It wasn’t underneath a lot management earlier than,” mentioned Joeson Kwak, a 33-year-old inside design contractor who was within the Wanchai district having breakfast. “I do not really feel something particular right this moment. I am blissful I haven’t got to go to work right this moment.”

Mr. Xi’s go to is each a message geared toward reinforcing Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong for town’s 7.5 million individuals and a message of defiance to Western governments who’ve denounced its repression. The US, Britain and different nations have accused China of breaking guarantees to permit Hong Kong to protect its protections for particular person rights for 50 years underneath an settlement referred to as one nation, two methods.

Subduing Hong Kong additionally has private that means for Xi. She’s going to assist polish his place among the many Communist Occasion elite at a key second as he seeks a 3rd five-year time period in workplace, which he’s anticipated to win later this yr.

“We will count on the social gathering congress in October to focus on the success of 1 nation, two methods,” mentioned Sonny Lo, a Hong Kong political commentator.

For native activists, July 1 has been an anniversary of pivotal demonstrations. However a mixture of pandemic restrictions and political repression has largely eradicated such gatherings. One leftist group, the League of Social Democrats, continued to have a good time vital dates with small rallies of simply 4 individuals, which is technically allowed underneath social distancing guidelines.

However after visits by nationwide safety police, the group introduced this week that it will not maintain a protest on Friday. Members of the group have been underneath fixed surveillance and their group was threatened with closure in the event that they tried to exhibit, mentioned Avery Ng, the group’s common secretary.

“It is like China,” he mentioned.

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