On July 1, 1997, the former British colony was returned to China. This grand celebration is being celebrated in Hong Kong today.
“Hong Kong’s real democracy has since begun,” President Xi Jinping said during the 25th anniversary celebrations on Friday.
The president is making his first trip outside mainland China since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic. He participated in the ceremony, which began with the raising of the flag of China and Hong Kong in Victoria Harbor, accompanied by the Chinese national anthem, an aerial show, and boats spraying water columns.
“After reunification with the motherland, Hong Kong residents have become masters of their city,” Xi said on Friday.
A new leader is sworn in
On its 25th anniversary, Hong Kong acquired a new leader, John Lee. He took over the position of Supreme Leader of Hong Kong from Carrie Lam.
Lee has a background as Hong Kong’s security chief under her rule and played an important role in the Chinese authorities’ war against democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020.
After seizing power in 1997, China promised that Hong Kong would receive a significant amount of autonomy from the Beijing authorities.
In recent years, control from mainland China has become increasingly stronger. The British accuse the Chinese of not sticking to the agreement reached before the colony was returned.
“We will not abandon Hong Kong,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last night.
– 25 years ago we made a promise to the region and its people. We must keep this promise. “We will do everything we can so that China abides by its part of the agreement, so that Hong Kong can once again lead the people of Hong Kong,” the prime minister said in a message he sent on Twitter.
The protests subsided
The first of July has been celebrated in Hong Kong every year since 1997. This day was often followed by demonstrations against the increasing Chinese control. In 2020, Xi Jinping introduced security laws that restrict freedom of expression and make it difficult to go out to demonstrate.
The laws were introduced after that Great Democracy Protests in Hong Kong in the years since 2014. It culminated in 2019 with several large student demonstrations and several detention centres. In recent years, several activists have been arrested and independent newspapers have been raided by police.
Read more about the democratic protests in Hong Kong over here
This year’s celebration is being held under heavy security. There were no major protests against the Beijing authorities today.
Large parts of Hong Kong have been locked down, and media coverage has been very limited. Last week, police tried to remove any potential source that could put Xi in a bad light during the visit.
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