'Absolutely Impermissible': China's Xi Jinping Bears Down on Dissent

Laura Christensen
July 2, 2017

Xi hinted that the central government was in favour of Hong Kong introducing "national security" legislation, a controversial issue that brought almost half a million people to the streets in protest in 2003 and ultimately forced former leader Tung Chee-hwa to step down.

The protest, which saw participants of all ages march through the bustling streets of a city campaigning for universal suffrage and against the degradation of civil liberties, comes as Hong Kong marks its 20th anniversary since it was returned to China from British colonial rule.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that challenges to stability in China or Hong Kong would be "absolutely impermissible" as he spoke at the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong's new leader Carrie Lam on the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain.

Hong Kong foreign passport holders and diplomats interviewed by Reuters say the rush for overseas protection has been fuelled by the territory's divisive battle for democracy, especially the "Occupy" street protests of 2014, and increasing calls for independence, a red line for Beijing. The protesters, including activist Joshua Wong, a leader of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, managed to obscure the statue from view.

Lam said she recognized the political and economic challenges facing Hong Kong but added that the city's problems can not be solved overnight.

Chang also said the DPP would fully support the Hong Kong citizens in their pursuit of democratic freedom and political rights.

There are growing fears that freedoms guaranteed by the handover deal are now under threat, with Chinese authorities accused of abductions and interfering in a range of areas, from politics to media and education.Xi cautioned that political conflict would "severely hinder" Hong Kong's economic and social development and called for education measures to promote China's national culture and history.

The official transcript of Xi's speech was printed in the mainland's simplified characters instead of Hong Kong's traditional complex characters.

"Is Hong Kong so risky?" she asked, adding it was wasteful to spend huge sums of taxpayers' money to mount the security. He said he had full confidence in the bright future of Hong Kong.

China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech following the swearing-in of Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Carrie Lam as the territory's new leader during a ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong
Tensions high in Hong Kong ahead of milestone Chinese handover anniversary

Others criticised China's Foreign Ministry which on Friday said the "Joint Declaration" with Britain over Hong Kong, a treaty laying the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, "no longer has any practical significance".

She and her cabinet swore to serve China and Hong Kong and to uphold the Basic Law, the territory's mini-constitution.

China's President urged Hong Kong to do more to increase security and boost "patriotic education".

"There are many different problems - the housing shortage, corruption, economic problems - but all of them stem from the influence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)", said Karen Chan, 31.

Many protesters carried banners calling for his release, or pictures of empty chairs - echoing the award of his 2010 Nobel prize that took place while he was in prison.

"The people of Hong Kong, now masters of their own house, run their local affairs within the purview of autonomy of the HKSAR", he was quoted as saying by China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

Off Lantau island, where Hong Kong's global airport is located, the appearance of a new, disruptive landmark is also causing anxiety - the soon-to-be longest bridge in the world.

The Xi administration must recognize that if its oppression of Hong Kong grows, Hong Kong society will be further destabilized.

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