Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong for the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to mainland China, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
The trip will be Xi’s first known visit outside mainland China since January 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak. He will also attend the inaugural ceremony of Hong Kong’s sixth term government, Xinhua added.
John Lee will become the city’s new leader on July 1, replacing Carrie Lam, who has overseen some of the most tumultuous territory with anti-government protests and COVID-19.
Xi also oversaw Lam’s swearing-in in 2017, when he was in Hong Kong to celebrate the anniversary of the last handover.
Uncertainties over Xi’s visit to the former British colony have grown in recent weeks as new COVID-19 infections have risen in the city, with two incoming senior officials among the latest cases.
China is adopting strict COVID policies and travel restrictions that aim to eradicate all outbreaks, pretty much at any cost, bucking a global trend of trying to coexist with the virus.
Critics said the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover was significant for China, which sees the city stabilize after mass pro-democracy protests in 2019 following the implementation of the security law national and electoral reforms ensuring that only patriots can serve in government and the legislature. .
A former top policeman turned civil servant, Lee pledged to maintain a firm grip on the city under the security law, in line with China’s sovereign interests.
Hong Kong was returned to China on July 1, 1997, after 156 years of British colonial rule.
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