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Xi Jinping has Hong Kong on his heels. Now he is back in the transformed city

Meanwhile, Xi is only a few months away from the end of the first decade of power, and it is widely expected that the ruling Communist Party's main meeting this fall will seek an unprecedented third term. ..

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied that national security law is suppressing freedom. Instead, it claims that the law has ended the turmoil and restored the stability of the city.

Hong Kong may feel more like home to authoritarian leaders who are obsessed with stability. Unlike his previous visits to the city, Xi needs to worry about the official wording of the objection, such as the important headlines on the top page of the local newspaper, the protest slogan on the billboard, and the mass rally on the street. There is none.

Instead, he is set to be surrounded by "patriotic" officials, loyal tycoons, and a series of powerful security measures, including large obstacles and city-wide bans on drones. I am. He is isolated from the public by a meticulously maintained "closed-loop" system-installed to protect him from the city's increasing Covid-19 infection.

As a sign of increased security, journalists from at least seven media organizations, including CNN, will no longer be able to report the ceremony a few days before the event after being first certified. I did.

Beijing supporters say Hong Kong has ushered in a "new era of stability, prosperity and opportunity."

"This is an important milestone for our country and Hong Kong," the city government said in astatementcommemorating the anniversary. "(It) not only captures Hong Kong's impressive achievements over the last 25 years, but also emphasizes our eager expectations and confidence for a brighter future."

But Critics are afraid that Hong Kong is increasingly transforming its image of China. For some, the "one country, two systems" experiment is already over, 25 years ahead of schedule.

"One country, two systems"

The "one country, two systems" proposed by the late Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping was originally aimed at supporting the achievement of China. Unification with Taiwan, which is a political formula, and autonomous democracy with a capitalist economy. However, it was hoped that it would first apply to Hong Kong and set a desirable example for Taiwan to follow suit.

The governance model pledges that Hong Kong's capitalist system and lifestyle will remain unchanged for 50 years, allowing the capitalist bubble to coexist within a socialist country.

When Margaret Thatcher visited Beijing in 1984 to sign a Sino-British Joint Statement for the Return of Hong Kong, Den assured the British Prime Minister that "China will always keep its promise."

"We weren't talking casually or impulsively when we put out the numbers for 50 years, but given the reality of China and the need for development," he said.Tell Thatcher

Upon arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday, Xi called the "one country, two systems" a "good system."

"The facts proved that the" one country, two systems "has a strong vitality. It can ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and protect the well-being of Hong Kong's compatriots, "Xi said internally at West Kowloon Station.

"For the past few years, Hong Kong has endured tough challenges one after another, overcoming risks and challenges one after another. After overcoming the storm, Hong Kong emerged from the ashes with vigorous vitality. "He said. ..

However, critics, including Hong Kong's last British governorChris Patten, have accused Beijing of violating these promises in recent years as it gained control over Hong Kong. There is.
"It's no exaggeration to say that the situation wasn't too bad for 10 years from 1997, probably a little longer, but partly because Xi Jinping and his colleagues are afraid of Hong Kong. , They went downhill. Hong Kong is actually abbreviated. " Pattensaid at a press conference last week.

Fight for Democracy

Since taking power, Xi has been "Western" with constitutional democracy, press freedom, judicial independence and more. We have fought an ideological war against the influence of "values". And Universal Human Rights-a concept that has long been valued in Hong Kong and has formed an integral part of its identity.

The pursuit of complete democracy in the city, that is, ultimately electing its leader by universal suffrage, that is, the goal set out in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, is especially by Beijing. Suspected and seen. Freely elected leaders can challenge their authority.

Hong Kong's democracy supporters lost patience when Beijing stalled in election reform. In 2014, thousands of young protesters occupied the main roads of the city's financial centers and demanded "true universal suffrage." It rejected the Chinese parliament's proposal to have the candidate pre-screened by the Beijing Support Committee. The peaceful protests known as the "Umbrella Movement" ended after 79 days, and none of their demands were met.
Since then, Beijing has sought to exercise more control over Hong Kong. When visiting the city for the first time as a Chinese leader in 2017, Xi warnedthat any effort by the central government to "challenge power" was "absolutely unacceptable."

"Attempts to jeopardize China's sovereignty and security, or to use Hong Kong to carry out invasion and sabotage of the mainland, are acts that cross the red line," he said. Said in his 20th delivery speech. anniversary.

But Beijing's tense grip only added to the city's dissatisfaction, especially among the younger generation. Many of them are afraid that they will not have enough time to fight for democracy before the 2047 deadline.

Some have tried to drive change by joining the city council, but that has failed as the pressure from Beijing has increased. Many Democrats were disqualified in the oath dispute and other candidates were forbidden to run for public office

Long-term tensions eventually broke out in 2019 did. A peaceful march against a bill that would allow the expulsion of suspected criminals to mainland China soon snowballed into sometimes violent anti-Beijing protests, the most since the city was handed over with social unrest for months. I fell into a turbulent time.

A year later, in the calm of a pandemic-induced protest, Beijing bypassed the city council and imposedNational Security Act. It took effect the day before the delivery anniversary on July 1st. .. In vaguely defined terms, the law criminalizes separation, destruction, terrorism, and collusion with foreign troops, and allows the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Hong Kong Transformation

Since then, crackdown measures What was previously unthinkable arrived at a dizzying pace, dramatically changing Hong Kong's political and social situation.

Almost all of the city's major democratic advocates, including activists and politicians, were imprisoned or expelled. There are no opposition members left in the legislature, and now only "patriots" can run for the legislature.

The city's most candid newspaper, Apple Daily, was closed, followed by a number of smaller democratization promotion agencies, with dozens of civil society groups, from unions and churches to activist groups. Disbanded. From statues to annual memorial alerts, memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident have been erased from public places.

Tens of thousands of citizens vote on their own feet and migrate to democracies such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

A Hong Kong government spokesman responded to a request for comment on the diminishing freedom of the CNN, saying: "Many freedoms and rights are not absolute and can be limited for reasons such as national security and protection of public security."

But Xi's transformation of Hong Kong Aims not only to deprive the former freedom, but also to reshape the city with the image of China and connect it more deeply with its homeland.

Starting this year, schools, including some kindergartens, will need to hold a national flag-raising ceremony at least once a week, where they must play and sing the national anthem.

In the classroom, national security education was introduced into thecurriculum, "cultivating students a sense of belonging to the country, love for the Chinese, and a sense of national identity." "Democracy Books by supporters of, or other books considered politically sensitive, have been removed from the shelves of public libraries.

Hong Kong police are now using them since the colonial era. Abandoning the British style and adopting the Chinese army's geese-foot march style.

A few days before the 25th delivery ceremony, a temple of doctrine popular with local worshipers. Wontaishin Temple became the first religious facility to hold a flag-raising ceremony in Hong Kong. Flags of China and Hong Kong. Under Xi, the Chinese flag is omnipresent to temples, churches and mosques in mainland China.

Hong Kong authorities are proud to say that they are working to incorporate Hong Kong into China's national economic master plan, including the development of the Greater Bay Area. Hope Beijing will one day rival the Bay Area of ​​San Francisco in New York, and Tokyo.

In 2018, the Xi will be the longest cross-sea bridge ever built {115. } Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridgeofficially opened. In the same year,West Kowloon Stationopened, connecting Hong Kong and the mainland by high-speed rail.
{120 However, since the pandemic, both projects have been largely idle due to strict border controls between Hong Kong and mainland China, which means that the last place in the world still adheres to the strict Zero Corona strategy.

According to local media reports, Xi plans to spend the night in Shenzhen without being subject to intensive quarantine like regular travelers, so two days. It is expected that the trip will cross the border at least three times ..

Meanwhile, across the Hong Kong border, thousands of officials, guests and staff will attend the ceremony from Wednesday only. Started quarantine at a hotel in the city.

Xi's visit may be historic in many ways, but for many Hong Kongers, his presence is only a short time. See how much it has changed It's just