HONG KONG ( Associated Press) – Questions remain over whether Chinese leader Xi Jinping will attend the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British rule to Chinese rule and the inauguration of the region’s new leader.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said Xi would attend the July 1 memorial ceremony, but it was not clear whether he would travel to the city.
Like most matters relating to the ruling Communist Party, the travel plans of top leaders are generally kept secret. However, Xi has not traveled outside mainland China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
China is sticking to its “zero-COVID” strategy of eliminating the outbreak entirely by testing the population on a large scale and closing buildings, neighborhoods or entire cities for a week. Infections have recently been on the rise in Hong Kong after a flurry of cases earlier this year, threatening its hospitals.
While Hong Kong’s commemorations are purely symbolic, they will include the installation on Friday of former security chief John Lee, who led the harsh crackdown on the 2019 pro-democracy protests, as the city’s chief executive.
Since the protests, Beijing has enacted a national security law that has jailed, silenced or deported Hong Kong political activists; curtailment of freedom of expression and assembly; And if they are deemed a traitor, they are removed from public office or disqualified.
In 2017, Xi gave a speech commemorating the 20th anniversary, in which he pledged that the central government would take a strong stand against any challenge to his authority.