Beijing warns Hong Kong marchers not to challenge mainland rule

Xi hinted that the central government was in favor of Hong Kong introducing "national security" legislation, a controversial issue that brought almost half a million people to the streets in protest in 2003 and ultimately forced former leader Tung Chee-hwa to step down.

More than 100,000 people took to the streets in Hong Kong back in 2014 for 79 days to protest against Beijing's refusal to allow full democracy in the so-called "Occupy" civil disobedience movement.

"Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government. or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses a red line and is absolutely impermissible", Xi said as he ended his trip.

A huge security operation shut down large parts of the city, with thousands of police deployed to keep away demonstrators angry at Beijing's tightening grip. However, the committee was criticized for allegedly being stacked with pro-Beijing members. "They want to dilute us and make Hong Kong a city similar to Shanghai or Shenzhen", he says, an argument repeated by many others.

The career bureaucrat was selected through a process decried by critics as fundamentally undemocratic, involving just a sliver of a per cent of Hong Kong's three million-plus voters.

During the meeting with a group of dignitaries from all walks of life of Hong Kong, Xi said the central government stands firm on the "one country, two systems" principle. "At the same time, there was a strong warning to the localists and the pro-independence people".

However, the statistic does not indicate that localism groups are losing ground, Chan said, but rather that young Hong Kongers have calmed down and realized the low probability of the territory becoming independent.

Twenty years since the handover of power from Britain to China, Hong Kong remains a place undergoing an uneasy transition.

In his words, China had made it "categorically clear" in talks with Britain in the 1980s that "sovereignty is not for negotiation".

China said yesterday that the joint declaration with Britain over Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after its return to China in 1997, was a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.

Activists scoffed at Xi's remarks.

In Saturday's protests, pro-democracy party Demosisto said police had arrested five of its members, and four members from the League of Social Democrats.

"We have one simple message, respect Hong Kong people, give us universal suffrage, give us democracy or we will fight for it".

It has also coincided with the inauguration of new chief executive Carrie Lam, who is seen by detractors as a puppet to Beijing.

Mr Xi then lamented how the remainder of modern day Hong Kong - Kowloon and the New Territories -became part of the British Empire, to the "sorrow" of the Chinese people.

Speaking in Mandarin for her inaugural address, instead of the Cantonese dialect widely used in Hong Kong, Mrs Lam told assembled dignitaries she wanted to create a harmonious society, and described the future as "bright".

In the midst of this unsettling atmosphere and unprecedented security measures, Chinese President Xi Jinping landed on Thursday in a city decorated with the flag for his visit, the first since he took office in 2013.

"When it comes to teaching history, for example, mainland China removes a lot of what we know as truth".

Chinese symbols like national flags or a giant ad for mainland liquor loom over the city in some photos.

Organizers said 60,000 people turned out, far less than the 110,000 they said took part a year ago.

Lam prevailed over a much more popular rival in a selection process decried by many as "fake democracy", with only 777 votes from a 1,200-seat panel of mostly pro-Beijing elites.

Strolling through Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood, historian Henry Yu reflects on how immigrants from Hong Kong have helped shape the city over the past two decades.

  • Jon Douglas