06/23/2017, 14.02
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President Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of its return to the fatherland

by Paul Wang

Xi's full schedule includes a visit to the PLA garrison, the swearing in of the Hong Kong cabinet and infrastructure projects, but no meeting with the population. Security will be tight in view of possible terrorism. Beijing’s anti-democracy steps have also raised fear of protests. Aircraft carrier Liaoning is set to visit Hong Kong harbour.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong for the first time since he became president in 2013 to mark 20 years since its return to mainland China on 1st July 1997.

Details about the visit are still sketchy, but the South China Morning Post has managed to get some information, which it has published today.

Most of the president’s activities will take place at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, which was built 20 years ago for the original handover ceremony.

Xi will visit the local People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison and one or two ongoing projects connecting Hong Kong and the mainland: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge or the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou.

Mr Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan will arrive in Hong Kong on 29 June and will stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

On July 1, he will oversee the swearing-in of the new chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her cabinet, thus replacing Leung Chung-ying and his administration (pictured with Xi).

Before leaving the city by plane that day, Xi will visit the construction site of one of the two aforementioned infrastructure projects.

Sources with knowledge of his three-day trip said that his tight schedule would mean little to no time to visit a local family or neighbourhood. But wife Peng Liyuan will meet residents of an elderly home on Friday.

Because of terrorist threats, the visit is shrouded in secrecy. In order to prevent violence and maintain security, more than a third of the 29,000-strong police force is expected to be deployed round the clock.

The day before the arrival of the president, divers from the force’s elite Special Duty Squad, also known as “Flying Tigers”, will enter the waters and carry out an underwater security check outside the Wan Chai waterfront.

According to some local observers, the emphasis on security and the lack of direct contact with the population shows that the president fears protesters opposed to mainland policy vis-à-vis the territory.

Three years ago, Occupy Central protests brought tens of thousands of people out into the streets when Beijing refused demands for the direct election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

On the other hand, after X’s departure, China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier Liaoning, which can carry 24 fighter jets, will sail into Hong Kong harbour next month and be open to the public.

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