China’s Xi emphasizes deep affection for Hong Kong in state media

(Bloomberg) — Chinese state media proclaimed President Xi Jinping’s “deep affection” for Hong Kong, as speculation mounts that he will travel to the city on July 1 to celebrate the anniversary transfer.

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Communist Party Mouthpiece People’s Daily published a 2,000-word article on Monday titled “Hong Kong’s development is always close to my heart,” highlighting Xi’s speeches during his decade in power on the city’s progress. The article was republished on Tuesday on the front page of the Beijing-controlled local newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

Hong Kong officials prepare to celebrate 25 years of Chinese rule in the former British colony, at an event expected to be attended by an unnamed state leader. The South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday that the current arrangement is for Xi to visit the city, according to an unnamed source. Separately, local media outlet Ming Pao reported that Chinese state leaders could arrive by high-speed train, also citing unknown sources.

The People’s Daily article highlighted Xi’s long experience coordinating Hong Kong and Macau affairs during his time in Beijing before he became president, and his landmark visit to the city in 2017 for the 20th anniversary of the handover.

READ: Hong Kong rights lawyers are next target in China’s crackdown on dissidents

“President Xi has deep feelings for this piece of land,” the report said. “He is very familiar with the situation of Hong Kong, cares about the prosperity and stability as well as the interests and well-being of Hong Kongers.”

Since Xi’s last visit, Hong Kong in 2019 has seen historic anti-government protests that pushed back China’s increasing influence over the city, prompting Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law that has since crushed dissent. Xi then revamped the city’s electoral system to ensure that only Communist Party patriots can rule.

While all this has tightened Beijing’s hold on the city, Hong Kong has still strayed from the mainland’s steadfast zero-tolerance Covid policy, which regularly recorded more than 1,000 daily infections in recent weeks. City officials have tightened testing regulations for bars as July 1 approaches to prevent cases from rising further, with outgoing CEO Carrie Lam acknowledging that conditions must be “favourable” for Xi to attend celebrations.

Xi’s visit would mark the first time he has left mainland China since January 2020, when he visited neighboring Myanmar at the start of the pandemic. Since then, the mainland has stuck to its Covid Zero policy of trying to eliminate all cases with lockdowns and mass testing.

Local officials attending the July 1 celebrations are expected to enter into a week-long “closed-loop” arrangement that would restrict them to their homes and workplaces, with no use of public transportation, culminating in a night of hotel quarantine, the agency reported. Post sooner. cite sources. The city canceled the Legislative Council meeting next Wednesday to prevent cases from spreading among lawmakers over those invited to attend the festivities.

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