Thursday, June 29, 2017

Xi Vows Support to Hong Kong
By Li Ruohan in Hong Kong
Global Times
2017/6/30 6:35:17

20 years proves success of ‘one country, two systems’

President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, waves as he makes a speech upon arriving at Hong Kong International Airport on Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that the central government will always support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in growing its economy and improving people's well-being as he kicked off his first visit to the city as president, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Xi arrived in Hong Kong at midday Thursday and met with outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying that the central government fully acknowledged his work during his five-year term of office.

During the meeting, Xi said the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong had been very successful.

Xi will attend celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, and the inauguration of the fifth-term government of the HKSAR.

More than 500 activities have been held in Hong Kong to celebrate the anniversary since January. Crowds at a Thursday performance at the bustling Central Plaza, told the Global Times that they have high expectations for the president's trip, and look forward to more "gifts" from the central government.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, Xi said his Hong Kong tour would serve to express best wishes for the HKSAR, showcase the central government's support for Hong Kong, and help the region plan its future.

The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover is of great importance to Hong Kong, and the visit by the president shows that the central government attaches great importance to the region and its appreciation of the region's development during the period, said Hong Kong politicians.

The past 20 years have proven that "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong is a successful experience and that message needs to be delivered to all Hongkongers and to the world, Wilson Or Chong Shing, a member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, told the Global Times.

"After the handover, Hongkongers were no longer bullied and insulted by colonialists. The central government has shown unconditional support for the development of the SAR, which is the blessing of the region and should be appreciated," Or said.

Echoing Or, Victor Chan, vice president of the Hong Kong Association of Young Commentators, said that he expects more beneficial policies to develop the local economy, such as more involvement in the China-led Belt and Road initiative, and more measures to encourage the interaction of the younger generations.

Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, another Hong Kong lawmaker, told the Global Times that he looks forward to better understanding the central government's expectations for Hong Kong during Xi's trip, as well as the position of Hong Kong in future development.

The first decade after Hong Kong's return saw many challenges, such as the financial crisis and the SARS outbreak, while in the second decade, many young Hongkongers missed the opportunity for development due to a lack of understanding of the country's development, Or noted.

During Xi's visit, he is expected to preside over a military parade by the local garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Friday, and will attend a banquet in the evening, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.

The Chinese military's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning will also visit Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PLA troops stationed there. The visit will be part of the carrier's trans-regional training, Wu Qian, a military spokesperson said Thursday, adding that specific arrangements will be released as appropriate.

Harsher on separatists

Accompanied by Leung, Xi also met with senior figures of Hong Kong's executive, legislative and judicial bodies Thursday afternoon.

Xi said the central government highly appreciates the administration's work and it has made huge progress in different sectors, especially in its fight against pro-independence forces and in safeguarding social stability, RTHK reported.

Opposing "Hong Kong independence" is not only an issue of political correctness, more importantly, the seclusion mentality behind the pro-independence movement will jeopardize the younger generation's future development, said Tang Fei, a member of the Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies.

Meanwhile, it is sending a wrong message that the organizers of the illegal Occupy Central movement are still not properly convicted, and it totally goes against the core values of Hong Kong law, said Or, adding that he hopes the central government will support the new administration of Hong Kong in defending core values and severely punish those involved.

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