NOS News•Today, 10:14
Chinese President Xi Jinping today defended his vision of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance model. In a speech in the city-state to mark the 25th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China, Xi called it a “widely recognized success.”
“There is no reason to change such a good system and it must be maintained for a long time,” he said, in what appeared to be an attempt to reassure residents that Hong Kong can maintain their relative freedoms vis-à-vis China.
At the same time, the president stressed that Hong Kong must respect Chinese leadership. He also warned that there is no tolerance for activities seen as a threat to China’s sovereignty and stability.
The months of pro-democracy protests in 2019 are seen as one such threat by the ruling Communist Party of China. To put an end to the protracted unrest in Hong Kong, Beijing introduced a ‘national security law’.
Hong Kong’s new leader was security chief
That law was then used to arrest dozens of activists, media figures and supporters of democracy. Election laws were also amended to keep opposition politicians who are not considered patriotic enough out of power from the city. As a result of the changes, dissenting voices in the city have virtually disappeared.
Xi also sworn in Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee. As security chief, Lee oversaw the local police and government crackdown on pro-democracy activists during the massive protests in 2019.
Xi’s visit to Hong Kong is the first in five years and his first outside mainland China since the start of the corona crisis. During his last visit, there were still large-scale demonstrations.