Vastavam web: President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong today to mark 20 years since its return to China by Britain, with activists under arrest as authorities sought to avoid embarrassment during anniversary celebrations.A huge security operation shut down large parts of the normally throbbing city, with thousands of police deployed to keep away demonstrators angry at Beijing’s tightening grip on the freedoms of nearly eight million people.More than 20 activists — including Joshua Wong and young legislator Nathan Law remained in custody Thursday night after being arrested for causing a “public nuisance” during a Wednesday night protest.
The three-day visit is Xi’s first since becoming leader in 2013, and comes three years after huge pro-democracy protests crippled the semi-autonomous city for months as “Umbrella Movement” campaigners camped out on thoroughfares.He pledged support to Hong Kong and said the city had a place in his heart, adding that he wanted to ensure the continuation of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” set-up, which is enshrined in the handover deal and gives it rights unseen on the mainland.Pro-democracy campaigners say the system is being eroded as Beijing interferes in a range of areas, from politics to education and media.
Calls for the city to break away from China grew out of the failure of the mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014 to win political reform.Xi also complimented Leung for his “firm” handling of the city and dealing with what he called “accumulated problems”.”Xi Jinping came to Hong Kong. We want to say we don’t want any blessing. We don’t want your support for Hong Kong,” said activist and former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.