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Xi Jinping crushed Hong Kong's opposition. Now he insists on handing over to China, which is marked "the beginning of true democracy."

Hong Kong (CNN)Friday's Chinese leader Xi Jinping said "true democracy" isHong Kong Claimed to have started with. Twenty-five years ago, when China took control, he celebrated the iconic anniversary of a city transformed by the political crackdown of

"Homeland. After returning to, Hong Kong's compatriots became masters, and the people of Hong Kong ruled Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy in their own problems, which was the beginning of Hong Kong's true democracy. I did. "

The former British colony is at the midpoint of Beijing's 50-year commitment to "high autonomy" under a framework known as "one country, two systems."

However, critics, including the Western government, have accused Beijing of violating these promises in recent years as it strengthened its control over Hong Kong.

In 2020, a year after anti-government protests shook Hong Kong, Beijing imposed a drastic national security law on its once bohemian city. Two years later, no opposition lawmakers remain in the Hong Kong parliament, but almost all of its major democratic supporters, including activists and politicians, have been banished or imprisoned, with dozens standing in court. increase.

Xi'stwo-day visitwas the first time he had set foot in the city since he unleashed a thorough crackdown.

In his speech, Xi put the tone of victory, Hong Kong "ends the turmoil and violence, and is ready to" open a new horizon and make a new leap "in the next five years. Declared that it was done. Year.

He also emphasized that Hong Kong must be governed by "patriots," that is, those who are loyal to the ruling Communist Party.

"It is a universal rule of the world that political power must be in the hands of patriots. Every country or region in the world is a non-patriot, betrayal or rebellious force. It does not allow a person to seize power, "Xi said.

At the ceremony, Xi swore to John Lee. A former police officer has become the new leader of Hong Kong as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, replacing the retiring Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam.

After overseeing the arrests of dozens of activists and the assault on the newsroom, Lee, who became the face of the National Security Act, set out a vision for "a new chapter in Hong Kong." He claimed that the city was as free and advanced as ever, and vowed to continue its development, focusing on greater integration with mainland China.

Calm street atmosphere

Early in the morning, Lee and hundreds of Hong Kong officials raise a flag under the dark sky next to the city's Victoria Harbor. I attended the ceremony. , The day of the ceremony was kick-started.

Pomp and Circumstance was mainly limited to the Convention & Exhibition Center in front of the harbor. On the streets, Covid-19 restrictions, typhoon closures, and enhanced security made me feel much more calm.

Police presence stood out throughout Friday morning as police officers in four patrol pedestrian bridges, sidewalks, subway stations, and groups of exits in the commercial districts of Admiralti and Wan Chai.

"There is really nothing to celebrate. The whole ceremony is very vigilant and the public is no longer wanting the public to participate in political debates anyway. Will not be invited, "Tse said. , A photo enthusiast in his twenties who came to the waterfront to see police ships and helicopters.

In Hong Kong, July 1st was traditionally characterized by a large democratic march rushing to the bustling main street. However, there were no protests this year. Most of the city's democratization promotion groups have been dissolved in accordance with the National Security Act. According to police, none of the remaining organizations applied for permission to make a peaceful protest during Xi's trip.

Several public rallies on Friday were organized by Beijing supporters.

In the city's Tsim Sha Tsui district, a group of about 30 people gathered to raise the Chinese and patriotic flags directly opposite the place where the official wedding anniversary took place.

Martin Chan, with his wife and two children, was one of a group who bravely confronted stormy weather to take advantage of the holidays.

Chan said his children survived the 2019 rebel protest, but were still too young to understand why they happened.

"The important thing is that Hong Kong is now stable and safe," he said. "Although there are differences, we need to respect each other and also respect mainland China."

Lost love and criticism

Supporting democracy fleeing Hong Kong For politicians and activists, the anniversary is an inspirational event to see from afar.

Former lawmaker Ted Hui left for Australia on bail on suspicion of political motivation, but in a Facebook post on Friday, his anger "never disappeared." rice field.

"I feel strongly about Hong Kong as if I've never been away. I can't let go of my favorite place, I can't let go of my fellow prisoners," he said. I am writing.

"Hong Kong currently has more than 1,000 political prisoners, in addition to the judicial system destroyed by the evil National Security Act, free press and the annihilation of democratic societies," Hui said. Said.

Another former lawmaker, Nathan Law, who fled to Britain in 2020, said Hong Kong, which he once knew, was no longer recognizable.

"We are in a struggle. Luck: We set out to move towards the promised ideal Hong Kong. After being estranged, glamorous Looking back at the city where the façade remains, this "new Hong Kong" has lost its sound and I still want to return to the old Hong Kong, "said 28 years old. Said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that Britain is doing "as much as possible" to uphold China's commitment to "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.

"But now that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the delivery, we cannot avoid the fact that Beijing did not comply with its obligations. Hong Kongers' rights and freedoms, and theirs. It's a situation that threatens both the continued progress and prosperity of the house, "Johnson said in a video statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized "demolition."

"This date was supposed to be the midpoint of the 50 years of autonomy promised under the framework of a'one country, two systems'. But it is clear that Hong Kong and Beijing authorities no longer see democratic participation, fundamental freedoms and independent media as part of this vision. "