Hong Kong gets its first female chief executive, Lam Cheng sworn

by Antonio Miles July 2, 2017, 1:18
Hong Kong gets its first female chief executive, Lam Cheng sworn

In his most high-profile address in Hong Kong since becoming China's president, Xi Jinping gave a nationalistic history lesson on Hong Kong's takeover by the British nearly two centuries ago-a moment China sees as the start of its "century of humiliation" and that still shapes its dealings with the world today-contrasting that time with the city's modern-day greatness as part of China.

Meanwhile, incidents such as the secret detentions of five Hong Kong booksellers on the mainland have stirred fears that Beijing is undermining the "one country, two systems" blueprint.

The scramble for funds from initial public offerings, along with the tide of mainland capital flooding the city's securities markets, has been propelled by China's opening-up policies and the desire of mainland businesses to walk the global stage.

But his words can not be taken at face value in light of the fact that his administration has trampled on the freedom of Hong Kong residents and their fundamental rights.

The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration laying out terms for Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule is "no longer relevant today, and has no binding force on the Chinese central government's governance over Hong Kong", Lu said.

Pro-independence banners, as well as the colonial flag, were carried by mostly youthful demonstrators who braved sweltering summer temperatures to join an annual protest march, timed to coincide with the anniversary of China's resumption of sovereignty over the politically divided former British colony.

Several pro-democracy groups protested against Xi's visit and scuffled with pro-China organisations and police. The pro-democracy protesters were released on Friday.

The city of Hong Kong on Saturday celebrated the 20th anniversary of its transfer from British authority to China.

Xi's remarks came after Carrie Lam, 60, was sworn-in as Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, who became the territory's first female leader.

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Visiting President Xi Jinping warned that Hong Kong should give up any bid to "challenge the central government", however, and crack down on moves towards "Hong Kong independence". Progress in the "integration" of China and Hong Kong in the economic field seems to sustain the tough stance of the Xi administration.

Beijing has taken a tougher stance on Hong Kong in recent years, especially in the aftermath of the 79 days of the "Occupy" protests in 2014.

"Now that Hong Kong has returned to China, it is all the more important for us to firmly uphold China's sovereignty, security and development interests", he said. "In the early 1840s, the invasion of merely a 10,000-person British expedition forced the Qing government, having 800,000 in troops, to cede territory and pay indemnities, to cede Hong Kong island", he said.

However, "making everything political or deliberately creating differences and provoking confrontation will not resolve the problems", Xi said.

A protester said more and more people were getting frustrated by the increasing influence of Beijing on the city, which is supposed to enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

The warning comes after the emergence of young activists calling for self-determination or even full independence for Hong Kong, which has infuriated Beijing.

The official transcript of Xi's speech was printed in the mainland's simplified characters instead of Hong Kong's traditional complex characters.

Social worker Ceci Chan, in her 30s, said life was "difficult" for Hong Kongers and that Xi should not have hidden behind security barricades if he wanted to connect with residents.

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