China's Xi talks tough on Hong Kong

Robyn Ryan
July 2, 2017

An annual protest march has begun in Hong Kong, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his visit to the city by warning against challenges to Beijing's sovereignty.

Ms Lam was sworn in as Hong Kong's new leader on the city's 20th anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule in a ceremony presided over by Mr Xi.

"Any activities endangering the country's sovereignty, challenging the central government and Hong Kong Basic Law, a semi-constitution subordinate to the Chinese constitution, or committing an act of sabotage against the mainland are crossing the red line and utterly intolerable", said Xi.

Lau said many have high hopes for Lam who has said "she wants to heal the wounds, work with the pro-democracy people, as well as the pro-Beijing camp. but the big question is whether Xi Jinping and the liaison office in Hong Kong will allow her to do it".

Alleging that members of the police had manhandled members of Demosisto and another political group, the League of Social Democrats, when taking part in a rally on Saturday morning, Wong decried this treatment as an insult to Hong Kong's enshrined right to peaceful protest.

"First give us our democracy second believe in the Hong Kong people and thirdly stop destroying 'one country, two systems, '" she said.

Ron Wong, 17, who was marching with his parents, said Xi's visit had been a "show of power of who's in charge".

Hong Kong has become restless in recent years, with frequent calls for the protection of democratic freedoms and, in some cases, independence, concepts to which Beijing is firmly opposed.

Xi arrived here Thursday to attend celebrations for Hong Kong's 20th return anniversary and the inauguration of the HKSAR's fifth-term government.

In a sweeping speech which saw the Chinese leader warn opponents in Hong Kong not to cross a "red line", he recalled how British victory in the First Opium War of 1839-42 - in which Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain - set in motion decades of humiliation for China.

Activists have renewed calls for his release after he was sent to hospital for cancer treatment, under police custody.

The challenges we face were exemplified by the 2014 Umbrella Movement demonstrations, when tens of thousands took to the streets to demand greater democracy - a demand that remains unmet.

Beijing-backed civil servant Lam was chosen to be Hong Kong's next leader in March by a 1,200-person "election committee" stacked with pro-China and pro-establishment loyalists.

That's changed. "Actually, Hong Kong is shifting its role from Asia financial center to supporting the growth of China now", says William Hon, a trader for Liquidnet, a US equity broker.

Democracy campaigners clashed with pro-Beijing supporters near the venue, with police separating the two sides. The news that Nobel prize victor and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is terminally ill and has only recently been granted medical parole has been another source of discontent. Some activists in the area scuffled with pro-China protesters before dispersing.

Thousands of Hong Kong Chinese settled in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 90s because of uncertainty about what would happen when the United Kingdom handed the governance of Hong Kong over to the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997. "It used to be that you got out of college in Hong Kong, you were an invaluable resource because you had some sort of Mandarin skills, you spoke English and you were trained in finance, and you had no competition", says Andrew Collier, managing director of Orient Capital, and author of Shadow Banking and the Rise of Capitalism in China.

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