'Risen from the ashes...': What Xi Jinping said in Hong Kong today
Hong Kong and nearby Macao are designated as 'special administrative regions' that are governed separately from the rest of China, known as the Chinese mainland.
Hong Kong has 'risen from the ashes', China president Xi Jinping said Thursday on a rare visit to the former British colony. Xi was in Hong Kong to celebrate 25 year since it was returned to China and administer the oath of office to the global financial hub's new leader, John Lee.
Today was Xi Jinping's first visit to Hong Kong since 2017. More importantly, it was also his first trip outside mainland China in over two years - since the Covid pandemic struck.
"I'm very happy to be in Hong Kong," Xi said, "It's been five years since I last visited, and in the past five years I've been paying attention to and thinking about Hong Kong."
"Hong Kong has withstood severe tests again and again, overcoming challenges one by one. After the wind and rain, Hong Kong has risen from the ashes," the Chinese leader said.
"As long as we stick to the 'one country, two systems' framework, Hong Kong will have a brighter future and will make great contributions to the rejuvenation of the Chinese people."
On Friday, Xi will attend a ceremony marking Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule and officiate an inauguration ceremony for the new government led by incoming leader Lee.
Hong Kong and nearby Macao are designated as 'special administrative regions', or SARs, that are governed separately from the rest of China, known as the Chinese mainland.
Earlier today Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, stepped off a high-speed train - the mainland city of Shenzhen is 15 mins from Hong Kong by rail - to be greeted by children waving flowers and flags (Chinese and Hong Kong) and chanting 'Welcome, warmly welcome' in Mandarin.
They were also greeted by city leader Carrie Lam.
Hong Kong upped security ahead of Xi's visit
Ahead of Xi Jinping's arrival, security had been massively ramped up in Hong Kong - which was rocked by protests in 2019 and 2020 over an amendment to a bill on extradition.
These followed the iconic 'umbrella movement' protests that began in 2014 over demands for more transparent elections ahead of elections for a new chief executive in 2017.
Police have designated security zones and road closures as well as a no-fly zone for Friday. Some areas have been shut completely, including a performance venue and science park.
Over 10 journalists from local and international media had applications to cover the July 1 events rejected on 'security grounds'.
The Chinese government said it was 'striking a balance between the need of media work and security requirements'.
Anyone with possible contact with the president, including high-ranking officials, have been made to isolate and take daily Covid tests.
With input from AFP, Reuters