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"Reborn from ashes" Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong modified for wedding anniversary

NThis week, the headwinds of the typhoon and the surge in COVID-19 incidents among government officialsChina's Xi Jinping nation I stopped the chief. From a visit to Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the return to Chinese rule on July 1, with a well-distributed visit aimed at strengthening Beijing's control over the city.

Xi arrived on Thursday from a high-tech metropolis in mainland Shenzhen by high-speed train and was welcomed by supporters waving flags and signs with the following slogans: Vitality is better than before.

This trip is Xi's first trip outside mainland China since hisZero Corona policyclosed the country's borders in January 2020. This is also his first visit to Hong Kong, as hundreds of thousands of people went out on the streets in the2019 anti-government protestto challenge the governance of Beijing's SAR. .. Subsequent crackdowns arrested thousands, imprisoned opposition lawmakers, and closed newspapers and civil society groups.

"Hong Kong has endured tough challenges one after another and overcame dangers one after another," he said in a short speech when he arrived. "After the storm, Hong Kong is reborn from ashes and is vibrant."

Experts say his visit resembles a winning lap, onZero Corona PolicyWhen questions arise about China's stewardship, he shows that he has successfully rebuilt Hong Kong. 23} And Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Xi plans to aim for a rare third term at the party convention in November.

"Xi needs to predict success and uses a visit to Hong Kong to introduce it," said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London. "Xi will use his visit to Hong Kong to project spectacular achievements."

Read more:Soaring costs of China's Zero Corona policy

In the city, a bright red Chinese flag typhoon Chaba was lifted for a visit by the rain and wind as it approached the city. Signs on the overpass promise a new era of stability, prosperity and opportunity.

After arriving on Thursday, Xi visited Hong Kong Science Park, where several technology companies are based. He returned to the mainland on Thursday night and returned to Hong Kong on Friday to attend the inauguration of the newChief Executive of thecity, carefully selected by Beijing. Xi wore an N-95 face mask with the number "25" printed in red.

In a speech following Lee's oath, he expressed his hopes for Lee's administration, including solving deep-seated problems such as housing. He also asked Hong Kongers to accept "mainstream values ​​centered around love for their homeland and love for Hong Kong," and Hong Kong people said that Hong Kong "can't afford". I learned a difficult method. " To see the chaos.

The Chinese flag is in public housing Flying Real estate commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule in Hong Kong on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Paul Yeung—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Hong Kong implements closed-loop bubble to keep COVID-19 away during visits This week, thousands of government officials were put into hotel quarantine and demanded prompt antigen testing. In recent weeks, several officials have tested positive, with more than 2,000 cases recorded for the first time since April on Wednesday.

Authorities were keen to prevent interference. At the beginning of the week, a 6-foot water barrier was erected along the road near the exhibition center, where several important ceremonies are held. Roads throughout Wan Chai, where most of the events take place, are closed, causing traffic congestion in the city. Police presence in some areas such as Causeway Bay seems to have been higher than usual this week. In the Central Business District, the text on the large red sign on the sidewalk railing tells passers-by that they are attending a group of four or more (there are superficially regulations to curb COVID-19). Reminded me that I would be fined or prosecuted.

Hong Kong Patrol Special Forces 2022 6 On June 30, China's President Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong to attend a celebration to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the city's delivery from the United Kingdom to China in the city's Wan Chai district.

Peter Parks—AFP / Getty Images

According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association, at least 10 journalists are prohibited from attending the ceremony. It was (HKJA). The government said the scope was limited due to "the need for epidemic prevention, security requirements, and venue restrictions."

Before Xi cracked down on Hong Kong, a protest march was usually held on July 1. The League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of the last remaining democratic groups in the city, is from the local news websiteHong Kong Free Press (HKFP)HKFP. Police, who did not make regular protests on the 25th anniversary, reportedly searched the homes of several members of the LSD this week after some volunteers were summoned for a meeting by the National Security Police.

Read more: As Hong Kong celebrates its 25th anniversary of the return of Britain, its "house of cages" clearly reminds us of its inequality

The other groups seemed to be cautious. The Hong Kong National Opinion Institute said on June 28 that it had postponed the announcement of an investigation into the delivery "in response to theproposal" from the government.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, U.C. Irvine, a professor of history of the Prime Minister, and the author of the bookVigil: Hong Kong on the Brink,, said that Hong Kong has recently been in a neighboring mainland city, including the arrival of Xi's trip to West Kowloon. I am telling TIME that I am emphasizing the changed method. High-speed rail station. Despite being in Hong Kong, the station was controversial in 2018 after mainland officials decided to manage security. Water barriers were laid on the roads and activist groups were warned in advance to confirm that there were no public statements of dissatisfaction to compete with the official ceremony on July 1.

"This is what happens on a daily basis in mainland cities, before political anniversaries such as National Day, but never happened on July 1st in Hong Kong. "He says.

Annual protests in downtown Hong Kong March In search of democracy on July 1, 2014.

Kin Cheung / AP

Over the last 25 years, Hong Kong people have fought to protect and improve the characteristics of the city. .. It was different from the mainland, like a government structure that had a more liberal press, a more independent court, and a less democratic but lively public debate on all kinds of topics. I made it, says Wasserstrom. This was especially true in the 2010s when the move to narrow the space between Hong Kong and the mainland faced massive protests.

But that era seems to be over — with the 1997 return — despite the promise that Hong Kong will maintain a high level of autonomy for 50 years — Hong Kong crackdown and 2020National Security Actthat has been used to crack down on objections.

The change in Hong Kong is "Beijing is happy, but many locals are still worried about the protests of the 2010s," said Wasserstrom.

Amy Gunia (amy.gunia@time.com)