In presiding over the inauguration of Hong Kong’s new chief executive, John Lee, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that power in Hong Kong “must be run only by patriots” while entering a “new stage of development from chaos to order.”
“No other place or country in the world will allow those who are unpatriotic, even those who commit treason, to run their government,” the Chinese president added in his first major speech on Friday. Hongkong Since his last visit to the Territory five years ago.
Hong Kong was rocked by massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019, which were hampered by a tough new national security law.
“Hong Kong and Macau should maintain a capitalist system for a long time with a high degree of autonomy,” Xi said. “But all Hong Kong people should be able to respect and maintain the country’s basic socialist system.”
In his first speech as chief executive, Lee said Hong Kong had overcome “foreign forces interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and threatening national security”.
“With the strong support of the central government, Hong Kong was able to start over,” he added.
The inauguration, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, came a day after Xi Jinping. arrived in Hong Kong His first visit outside mainland China since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan two and a half years ago.
But Mr. Xi’s visit on Thursday was relatively brief, as he crossed the border by train and returned to Shenzhen for the night, according to people familiar with his itinerary.He returned to Hong Kong on Friday morning to attend Lee sworn ina career police and security officer who played a major role in cracking down on pro-democracy protests that swept the city.
The unusual arrangement reflects Beijing’s concerns about the recent increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong and potential security risks, despite the deployment of large numbers of security personnel across the territory in recent days.
Despite strong winds and typhoon warnings, Xi did not join Lee and his predecessor, Carrie Lam, for the traditional outdoor flag-raising ceremony.
None of Lee Kuan Yew’s four predecessors, including a tycoon, two career civil servants and a pro-Beijing loyalist, have been able to serve the two full five-year terms allowed under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Lee’s team of ministers was also sworn in by Xi, and then one by one they came before the president and bowed to him.
At least 10 journalists from local and foreign media have been banned from official events due to “security concerns,” according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday accused Beijing of ”[threatening] rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers in a video clip posted on Twitter,” while U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken criticized Beijing and Hong Kong authorities in a statement for ignoring “democratic participation and fundamental freedoms and independent media.”
“We made a promise to the region and its people 25 years ago, and we intend to keep it,” Johnson said. “Do everything we can to get China to keep its promise and make Hong Kong run by and serve Hong Kong people again.”
Accounting firm BDO, colonial-era conglomerates Swire and Jardine Matheson and casino groups Wynn Macau and Melco Crown all congratulated Mr. Xi on his visit in advertisements in local pro-Beijing newspapers on Friday.
Additional reporting by William Langley, Cheng Leng and Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong