Chinese leader Xi Jinping finally left mainland China, after 893 Days. But not to travel abroad. He went to Hong Kong to celebrate its 25th anniversary handover from the UK to Beijing on July 1st, or Friday.

In his speech lasting about half an hour, Xi highlighted the national pride when Hong Kong came back to the motherland. He also paints a bright picture of Hong Kong’s future with all its prosperity for the people. 

In the speech, Xi declared that Hong Kong “entered a new phase where it has gone from chaos to control and from control to prosperity ” – an assertion for a Hong Kong that had “risen from the ashes” that he just said one day before. 

The Chinese leader also paints his vision of a Hong Kong that had been saved from the “humiliation of forced cession” to Britain. He added that “real democracy” has finally come only after the territory returned to Beijing rule.

It’s worth noting that the ceremony began with only a small crowd of Chinese officials, and at least 13 journalists from local and foreign media outlets have been barred from events, including from Britain’s Reuters and France’s AFP.

The speech was given as Hong Kong – a once symbol of Asian cultural and financial powerhouse – is on a downward track to maintain its status as Beijing’s national security takes its grip.

Xi also promised to [quote & quote] “listen and care for” young people and help them find jobs. It’s against the backdrop that the financial hub’s unemployment rate from February to April hit a 12-month high of 5.4 percent. 

A recent survey by the University of Hong Kong found that about 1 in 10 Hongkongers are depressed due to job loss and the long lasting pandemic.

Nearly 60% of Hong Kong youngsters want to leave the city in 2021, according to a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. So are all the prominent Hong Kong activists, although not many of them could go into exile and sadly end up in jail for their ideology. 

Hong Kong youth are either fear of being charged with national security violations or simply because they see no future in a city that is no longer their used-to-be home.

The international businesses in Hong Kong also think the same. According to the local European Chamber of Commerce, nearly half of European companies are considering leaving Hong Kong this year. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a speech given at the anniversary day, said that about 120.000 Hong Konger are on the pathway to reside in the UK with the BNO passport, or British National (Overseas) visa.

In the speech, the Chinese leader also emphasized on maintaining the “one country, two systems” model created by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.  

“No reason to change and must persevere for the long term” as Xi said.

But Xi further explained what the meaning of this model, stressing the need for loyalty of Hong Kong politicians to Beijing:

No country would [quote] “allow forces or individuals that are not patriotic, or even betray their nation, to hold political power” [end quote].

Beijing has already made clear that it would not tolerate perceived threats to national security, such as calls for democracy and protests against Beijing’s influence. 

Talking to Phoenix media, Carrie Lam, Just-Step-down Hong Kong chief executive, also admitted:

 “I think, looking back, that for a long time, there was a misunderstanding that ‘one country, two systems’ was equal, but actually it’s not equal,” 

She added that she failed to understand the deep meaning of Xi’s speeches on the primacy of “one country” and the “red lines” Beijing laid out for ensuring national security.

One last point. At handover anniversary events on Friday, for the very first time, Hong Kong police use the Chinese military ‘goose-step’ marching style. Before, Hong Konger only followed the British marching style. For example, in 2018, Hong Kong youth groups refused to march the PLA way, but follow the former British tradition. Now both are used.

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