Xi defends vision of Hong Kong while marking 25-year anniversary of handover

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Top Stories

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China’s President Xi Jinping waves following his speech after a ceremony to inaugurate the city’s new government in Hong Kong Friday, July 1, 2022, on the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China.

Selim Chtayti/AP

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Selim Chtayti/AP

HONG KONG — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday defended his vision of the “one country, two systems” framework against accusations by the U.S., U.K. and others that Beijing has undermined the freedoms and autonomy promised to Hong Kong for 50 years. In a speech marking 25 years since the city became a semi-autonomous Chinese region following its handover from Britain in 1997, Xi said the “one country, two systems” framework — which allows Hong Kong to have its own laws and government — had achieved “universally recognized success.” “There is no reason for such a good system to change, and it must be maintained for a long time,” he said, in what appeared to be an attempt to reassure residents that Hong Kong could retain their relative freedoms even after 50 years.

But Xi also emphasized that Beijing had “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, and that residents of the territory should respect Chinese leadership, even as Beijing allows regions like Hong Kong and Macau to maintain their capitalist system and a degree of autonomy. He warned that there would be no tolerance for foreign interference or traitors to meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs, and that “safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests” is of the highest priority. “Nobody in any country or region in the world will allow foreign countries or even traitorous forces and figures to seize power,” he said, adding that only by having patriots governing Hong Kong, can the territory ensure long-term stability.

Xi last visited Hong Kong in 2017 for the July 1 celebrations, during which he warned that there would be no tolerance for any activities seen as threatening China’s sovereignty and stability. The months of pro-democracy protests in 2019 were seen by China’s ruling Communist Party as just such a threat. Since the protests, Beijing and Hong Kong authorities drafted a national security law that was then used to arrest scores of activists, media figures and democracy supporters; introduced a more “patriotic” curriculum in schools; and revamped election laws to keep opposition politicians who are deemed not patriotic enough out of the city’s Legislature. The changes have all but eliminated dissenting voices in the territory and have driven many to lea …

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