25 YEARS SINCE HANDOVER Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday made his first visit to HongKong since 2017, but did not attend the flag raising ceremony held at the Golden Bauhinia Squareto mark the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. —AFP
In rare visit, Chinese leader calls formula a success, amid accusations of freedom being curtailed
HONG KONG—There is no reason to change Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula of governance, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on a rare visit to the global financial hub after swearing in the city’s new leader, John Lee, on Friday.
Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, with Beijing promising wide-ranging autonomy, unfettered individual rights and judicial independence at least until 2047.
China’s critics accuse authorities of trampling on those freedoms, unavailable on the authoritarian mainland, with a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on the city in 2020 after mass prodemocracy protests the year before.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Thursday that China had failed to meet its handover commitments.
‘Order from chaos’
China and Hong Kong reject the accusations, saying the law “restored order from chaos” so that the city could prosper.
Xi said the “one country, two systems” formula was successful under China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction.”“For this kind of good system, there is no reason at all to change it. It must be maintained over the long term,” Xi said.
“After experiencing wind and rain, everyone can painfully feel that Hong Kong cannot be chaotic, and must not become chaotic again… Hong Kong’s development cannot be delayed again, and any interference must be eliminated.”
Xi added China would support Hong Kong’s role as an international finance and trade hub.
At the swearing-in ceremonies, all officials, including Xi, wore masks and did not shake hands.
Exodus of talentFormer police officer Lee, sanctioned by Washington over his role in implementing the security law, takes charge as the city is facing an exodus of people and talent amid some of the toughest COVID-19 restrictions in the world.