Xi Jinping talks tough on Hong Kong amid protests over Chinese rule

Xi Jinping talks tough on Hong Kong amid protests over Chinese rule

Twenty years since the handover of power from Britain to China, Hong Kong remains a place undergoing an uneasy transition.

Commenting on Xi's speech, Law said it showed the president's "ignorance" about Hong Kong.

Those same protesters have accused President Xi of deliberately "humiliating" Britain by tearing up the agreement they signed on Hong Kong rights.

"Hong Kong is a very great city".

There were 26 people arrested for offenses of disrupting public order.

The Chinese government has learned that it needs to rely on nationalism and patriotism to maintain the regime, he said, adding that the more it stresses these two ideals, the more it would emphasize "one country" rather than "two systems".

"We are willing, together with different sectors of Hong Kong society, to look back on Hong Kong's unusual course in the past 20 years", he told the crowds.

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Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank, said Xi delivered a tougher message than in speeches by former presidents Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

Hong Kong has been racked by demands for full democracy and, more recently, by calls by some pockets of protesters for independence, a subject that is anathema to Beijing.

Xi left Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon before the start of an annual July 1 pro-democracy march, which usually sees tens of thousands of people pack the city's streets. The pro-democracy movement lost considerable momentum after Beijing turned a cold shoulder to the 2014 protests.

Ms Chan was at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night for Chinese pro-democracy lawyer and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

She aims to instil a sense of "I am Chinese" in children in Hong Kong as part of her planned education reforms.

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.

Like many of his peers, Ngan plans to renew his BN (O), or British National (Overseas), passport, a special status passport granted to Hong Kong permanent residents prior to 1997.

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Xi said that any threats to the authority of China's communist party government "cross the red line and are absolutely impermissible".

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 July 1 speech was tougher than speeches Mr Xi had given a day earlier to a business audience, where he had highlighted China's economic and technological success and the benefits it could bring to Hong Kong.Instead, he warned on Saturday that development was crucial for HongKong's survival in a competitive global economy and it "cannot afford to be torn apart by reckless moves or internal rifts".

"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 calling Hong Kong people to action, Ng cautioned that the situation could deteriorate further.

"In the past two decades, Hong Kong has developed from a regional market with regional companies listed on the exchange for local investors and limited foreign investor involvement into an worldwide financial center".

China's Foreign Ministry said this week that a treaty called the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which came in effect at the time of the handover, was just a "historical document that no longer has any realistic meaning". Ahead of the anniversary, the United Kingdom and the U.S. governments issued statements expressing their concerns about the halted democratic progress and infringements of civil liberties in Hong Kong. "We hope the relevant people can be aware of the reality", Lu said.

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The career bureaucrat was selected through a process decried by critics as fundamentally undemocratic, involving just a sliver of a per cent of Hong Kong's three million-plus voters.

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