Hong Kong on high alert as Xi Jinping visit expected for handover

Published on Jun 30, 2022 08:30 AM IST

Government leaders have been forced into a closed-loop system, parts of the city shut down, and multiple journalists barred from Friday events that will showcase the Communist Party's control over the city after a political crackdown that dismantled a democracy movement and crushed dissent.

Authorities have moved to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi's time in the city, with national security police making at least nine arrests over the past week.(Reuters file photo)
Authorities have moved to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi's time in the city, with national security police making at least nine arrests over the past week.(Reuters file photo)
AFP |

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Hong Kong Thursday, prompting a massive security effort ahead of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city's handover to communist China.

Government leaders have been forced into a closed-loop system, parts of the city shut down, and multiple journalists barred from Friday events that will showcase the Communist Party's control over the city after a political crackdown that dismantled a democracy movement and crushed dissent.

Details around the trip, Xi's first outside mainland China since the Covid-19 pandemic began, have been kept under wraps, but he is expected to make appearances in Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday.

However, the Chinese leader will likely spend the night in neighbouring Shenzhen on the mainland, according to local media.

Those coming into Xi's orbit during the trip, including the highest-ranking government officials, have been made to limit their social contacts, take daily PCR tests and check into a quarantine hotel in the days leading up to the visit.

"To play safe, if we are going to meet the paramount leader and other leaders in close quarters, I think it is worthwhile to go into the closed-loop arrangements," veteran pro-Beijing politician Regina Ip told AFP.

Authorities have moved to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi's time in the city, with national security police making at least nine arrests over the past week.

The League of Social Democrats, one of Hong Kong's few remaining opposition groups, said it will not demonstrate on July 1 after national security officers spoke with volunteers associated with the group.

And Hong Kong's top polling group announced that it would delay publishing the results of a survey that gauged government popularity "in response to suggestions from relevant government departments after their risk assessment".

The July 1 handover anniversary in Hong Kong has traditionally been marked by tens of thousands taking to the streets in peaceful rallies every year.

But mass gatherings have essentially disappeared in Hong Kong over the past few years under a mixture of coronavirus restrictions and a security crackdown aimed at eliminating any public opposition to China's uncompromising rule over the city.

Patriotism on display

Authorities have tightly restricted media coverage of Xi's visit, with the government barring multiple journalists from covering events around it.

As of Wednesday, AFP has confirmed that 13 local and international journalists were denied accreditation to cover the handover celebrations.

Two AFP reporters were among those rejected, with a government official citing unspecified "security reasons". A third AFP reporter was later granted accreditation.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed "deep regret" at the rejections and said the quarantine and testing requirements reporters were made to undergo made staff substitutions difficult.

The government told media the decision was "a balance as far as possible between the needs of media work and security requirements".

Police on Tuesday announced large-scale road closures on Hong Kong island and temporarily banned the flying of drones in the entire city, citing security concerns.

Select sites across the financial hub have also been closed off, including the high-speed rail terminus, a performance venue for Chinese opera and Hong Kong's Science Park.

A number of Science Park workers told AFP they had not received any notification about a visit by Xi but said they were told to work from home on Thursday.

Authorities have also sought to portray an image of public support for the celebrations, including with mass displays of Hong Kong and China flags draped across dozens of public housing estates.

At one estate, a 26-year-old resident surnamed Chan complained at small flags that had been placed outside every floor at a stairwell. "It is unnecessary and too much," he told AFP.

Tony, a worker at the estate, said the display would be better if it was done by residents voluntarily.

"Are we really embracing this ideology so much?" he told AFP.

"People may be repelled... if it is overdone."

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Monkeypox can spread by touching objects that have been contaminated by the disease's fluids or lesions as well as direct physical contact with the lesions.

    Monkeypox virus can stay on computer mouse, coffee machine for days: CDC study

    A new study on monkeypox by the US disease control body CDC now suggests that the virus can linger on many common household objects for several days despite regular disinfecting. For this study, a home shared by two monkeypox patients was taken up. Researchers found the virus in 70 per cent of high-contact areas 20 days after their symptoms began. These included couches, blankets, a coffee machine, computer mouse and the light switch.

  • The path of flight ET343 over Addis Ababa, as recorded by Flightradar24. When the plane overflew the runway, the autopilot disconnected, triggering an alarm, which finally woke the pilots, who then turned the plane around. (Courtesy: flightradar24)

    Ethiopian Airlines pilots fall asleep on flight, miss landing

    New Delhi: Pilots of an aircraft of Ethiopian Airlines fell asleep mid-air and missed landing at Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, commercial aviation news website Aviation Herald reported late on Thursday. The pilots were later suspended pending an investigation, according to news agency Bloomberg. The incident reportedly took place on Monday when the aircraft was flying from Sudan's Khartoum and was supposed to land at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa.

  • Michael Gove in a file photo. (Reuters)

    Ex-UK minister Michael Gove backs Rishi Sunak for next PM

    Former British cabinet minister Michael Gove on Friday endorsed Rishi Sunak for prime minister and announced an end of his frontline political career, he said in an op-ed in The Times. Gove wrote in the op-ed that he thinks Liz Truss' campaign for 10 Downing Street "has been a holiday from reality." Sunak has the right arguments as they come from his experience of being the chancellor during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gove added.

  • FILE - Armed al-Shabab fighters ride on pickup trucks as they prepare to travel into the city, just outside the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, Dec. 8, 2008.. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

    Al-Shabaab attacks hotel in Somalia's Mogadishu, casualties reported

    Al-Shabaab fighters attacked a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu in a hail of gunfire and explosions on Friday, with casualties reported, security sources and witnesses said. The assault on the Hayat Hotel triggered a fierce gunfight between security forces and gunmen from the jihadist group who are still holed up inside the building, security official Abdukadir Hassan told AFP.

  • Sweden shopping centre shooting: Two injured, one arrested. (Getty Images)

    Sweden shopping centre shooting: Two injured, one arrested

    Swedish police said on Friday two people were injured in a shooting at the Emporia shopping centre in the southern city of Malmo and one suspect has been arrested. Read: Shooting selection policy set for a tweak again The police are on the scene questioning witnesses and going through material from surveillance cameras. Earlier, police said they had cordoned off the area and asked the public to avoid going to the shopping centre.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, August 20, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now