Hong Kong, 1 July 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Hong Kong’s new chief executive, John Lee, was sworn in on Friday, as part of celebrations marking 25 years since the territory’s return from Britain to China.
Lee, the city’s former security chief who is seen as a pro-Beijing hardliner, vowed in his inaugural speech to further Hong Kong’s integration with the mainland.
The festivities kicked off with a flag ceremony earlier on Friday.
The Hong Kong flag was hoisted alongside the Chinese flag at the ceremony in Victoria Harbour.
For the second year in a row, Hong Kong police marched in the Chinese style rather than echoing British drills as they had previously.
There used to be large annual protests held on the date, but since the introduction of the strict national security law, this year marks the third in an row with no protest rally.
Hong Kong had been a a British colony for about a century and a half before it was transferred back to China on July 1, 1997.
The handover included an agreement that Hong Kong would be ruled under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, and its 7 million residents were assured the territory would retain a high level of autonomy and political freedoms until 2047.
But since the national security law was imposed, many critics say there is effectively a “one country, one system” rule in place.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday, said in a speech on Friday that the city was enjoying “true democracy” since the handover to China.
He said “One Country, Two Systems” had to be implemented “correctly.” Xi emphasized that Hong Kong could only be ruled by “patriots.”
The new national security law as well as “improvements” to the electoral system had brought Hong Kong “from chaos to prosperity,” new chief executive Lee said.