Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Hong Kong on Thursday, which has prepared a massive security operation before the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the return of this former British colony to the communist power of Beijing.
Local leaders have entered a health bubble system against Covid, parts of the city were closed and several journalists were banned from the celebration events on Friday, which want to show the control of the Communist Party over the city after the political repression and the dismantling of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Details of the trip, Xi’s first outside mainland China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are being kept under wraps, but he is expected to appear in Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday.RELATED
The nights, however, will be spent in neighboring Shenzhen, on the other side of the border of this semi-autonomous territory, according to local media.
People who will meet Xi during the trip, including senior local executive government officials, have had to limit their social contacts, take daily PCR tests and enter a quarantine hotel before the visit.
“To play it safe, if we are going to meet with the supreme leader and other leaders in closed spaces, I think it is worth going into closed systems,” veteran pro-Beijing politician Regina Ip told AFP.
Authorities have been striving to avoid any possible mishaps during Xi’s visit, and the national security police have made at least nine arrests in the past week.
The League of Social Democrats, one of the few remaining opposition groups in Hong Kong, reported that they will not demonstrate on July 1 after a visit by national security agents to volunteers associated with the entity.
And the city’s main public opinion institute announced it would delay a government popularity poll “in response to suggestions from relevant government departments following risk assessment.”
Traditionally, the anniversary of the retrocession of July 1, 1997, has been marked by peaceful demonstrations of tens of thousands of people.
But mass gatherings have disappeared from Hong Kong in recent years due to a mix of coronavirus health restrictions and a crackdown orchestrated by local authorities and Beijing to quell any public opposition to communist rule.
display of patriotism
The authorities have restricted media coverage of the visit and have prevented multiple journalists from attending scheduled events.
On Wednesday, AFP had confirmed that 13 local and international journalists had been denied accreditation.
Among them were two AFP journalists, banned for unspecified “security reasons,” according to a government official. A third AFP journalist later received accreditation.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed “deep regret” at these rejections and indicated that the quarantine and covid test requirements demanded of reporters made it difficult to replace these reporters.
The government justified the decision as “balancing as much as possible between media work needs and security requirements.”
Police on Thursday announced extensive road closures on Hong Kong Island and temporarily banned the use of drones throughout the city, citing security concerns.
Some city facilities have also been closed, including the high-speed rail terminal, a Chinese opera house and the Hong Kong Science Park.
Several workers at this scientific compound explained to AFP that they had not received any notice of Xi’s visit, but that they had been ordered to work from home on Thursday.
In an attempt to stage public support on sight, the city has been filled with Chinese and Hong Kong flags, which decorate dozens of public housing estates.
In one of them, a 26-year-old resident surnamed Chan complained about the array of little flags strung from each floor of the interior stairwell. “It’s unnecessary and too much,” he told AFP.
Tony, a farm worker, assured that it would have been better if this display had been prepared voluntarily by the neighbors.
“Do we embrace this ideology so much?” He asked AFP. “People can be repulsed … if it’s done in an exaggerated way,” she said.
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