Tight security in Hong Kong as Xi leads celebrations

A huge security operation has shut down large parts of Hong Kong, with thousands of police deployed to keep away demonstrators angry at Beijing's tightening grip on the freedoms of nearly eight million people.

Tight security in Hong Kong as Xi leads celebrations

World Bulletin / News Desk

Tight security contained protesters in Hong Kong Friday night as China's President Xi Jinping led lavish celebrations to mark 20 years since the politically divided city was handed back to China by Britain.

A planned pro-independence rally was cancelled after police banned it from taking place and cordoned off the harbourfront area where defiant protesters had said they would gather.

An official protest zone near the harbourfront convention centre where Xi was guest of honour at an anniversary banquet and variety show was also heavily patrolled as dozens of demonstrators gathered chanting: "End one-party dictatorship!"

Tensions had flared Friday afternoon as democracy campaigners and pro-China supporters swore and shouted at each other near the convention centre, with police separating the two sides.

Xi praised Hong Kong for its role in China's economic development as he addressed the banquet, which included lawmakers and business figures, and told Hong Kong citizens to believe in themselves and China.

"Hong Kong has developed from a small unknown fishing village into a large international metropolis, forged by the hard work of generations of Hong Kongers," he said.

"When the country does well, Hong Kong will do even better," he added, before raising a glass of red wine for a toast.

Xi had earlier met with business leaders including the city's richest man, Li Ka-shing, with whom he shared a lengthy handshake.

Earlier Friday, tanks, missile launchers and chanting troops greeted Xi in a potent display of Chinese military might.

He inspected troops at China's People's Liberation Army airfield in rural northern Hong Kong, wearing a black Mao suit and riding an open-top camouflage jeep in the largest military parade since the 1997 handover.

As the jeep slowly drove past row upon row of air, naval and land personnel, Xi shouted "Hello comrades!" as the troops responded "Hello chairman!"

Armoured vehicles topped with missile launchers and military helicopters lined Xi's path along the airstrip for the eight-minute extravaganza.

There were fears that the PLA would crack down in Hong Kong when it was returned to China, particularly after the brutal crushing of student protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, but it has kept a very low profile.

Friday's parade was a rare display.

Last Mod: 30 Haziran 2017, 17:03
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