April 1, 2023

Chinese language and hong kong flags flutter above streets and purple celebratory banners line the harbor the front, as lots of hong kong police shield the city’s high-speed rail terminus, anticipating the arrival of chinese language leader xi jinping. In his first journey outdoor mainland china for the reason that begin of the pandemic, xi is coming to hong kong to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of its return to chinese rule — a especially symbolic event at a pivotal time for each the metropolis, and xi himself.

The previous british colony is halfway through the 50-12 months promise of “a high degree of autonomy,” given through beijing beneath a framework referred to as “one country, two structures.” it’s also swearing in its newly appointed chief, hardline former police officer john lee. Xi, meanwhile, is most effective months far from finishing his first decade in energy — and is widely anticipated to are looking for an unheard of 0. 33 term at a key meeting of the ruling communist celebration q4. The two-day trip is a timely declaration of political victory for xi, who has brought hong kong to heel with a sweeping national safety law following the 2019 anti-authorities protests. In only two years, critics say, the regulation has been used to weigh down the town’s opposition movement, overhaul its electoral machine, silence its outspoken media and cripple its once-colourful civil society. The hong kong authorities has time and again denied the national security regulation is suppressing freedoms.

As a substitute, it insists the regulation has ended chaos and restored stability to the city. For an authoritarian chief obsessed with balance, hong kong may also now sense extra like domestic than ever. In contrast to his preceding visits to the town, xi no longer wishes to worry approximately any public expression of dissent — be it essential headlines on local newspaper the front pages, protest slogans on billboards or mass rallies in the streets. As an alternative, he is set to be surrounded through only “patriotic” officials, unswerving tycoons and a blanket of heavy safety features — inclusive of giant roadblocks and a citywide ban on drones. He could be separated from the public via a meticulously maintained “closed loop” machine — put in region to protect him in opposition to the city’s rising covid-19 infections.

In a signal of the heightened safety, newshounds from as a minimum seven media agencies, together with cnn, were blocked from masking the ceremony days earlier than the occasion, after to start with receiving accreditation. Beijing’s supporters say hong kong has ushered in a “new technology of balance, prosperity and opportunity.” “this is an critical milestone for our nation and hong kong,” the metropolis’s authorities said in a declaration marking the anniversary. “(it) no longer only captures hong kong’s amazing achievements during the last two and a half many years, it also underscores our eager anticipation for and confidence in a brighter future.”
however critics fear hong kong is being an increasing number of reshaped in china’s picture. To a few, the “one usa, two systems” test is already dead — 25 years in advance of time table.

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