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Chinese President Xi swears in new Hong Kong leader


Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong's new leader on Friday in a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the former British colony's return to China.

Former Hong Kong security chief John Lee was sworn in as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Friday morning, as Hong Kong marks the 25th anniversary of its return to China.

Lee took his oath before Chinese President Xi Jinping, who oversaw the swearing-in ceremony.

"I, John Lee, swear that, in the office of Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, and be held accountable to the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," said Lee.

The president congratulated Lee on his inauguration after the oath-taking.

 

Lee, who is sanctioned by the United States over his role in implementing the new national security law, takes charge at a time when the global financial hub is facing an exodus of people and talent amid some of the toughest COVID-19 restrictions in the world. Lee said in a speech that emphasizing that National Security law is beneficial for citizens.

Xi's trip to Hong Kong is his first since 2017 when he swore in the city's first female leader, Carrie Lam, who oversaw some of the territory's most tumultuous times marked by anti-government protests in 2019 and the COVID epidemic.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a "one country, two systems" formula which guarantees wide-ranging autonomy and judicial independence not seen in mainland China.

Critics of the government, including Western nations, accuse authorities of trampling on those freedoms, which Beijing and Hong Kong reject.

Hong Kong residents speaking to Reuters on Friday said they felt little cause for celebration.

"So many major events have happened in Hong Kong and the city has changed, and we cannot go back. (We can’t regain) that sense of happiness. Even with (Chinese) President Xi coming, he cannot bring Hong Kong any happiness and bring about a proper sense of occasion,” said a local resident, Ivan Lam.

Another resident, 31-year-old cook Philip Fung, felt Xi's arrival was creating an inconvenience, with a heavy police presence around barricaded roads near the Wan Chai Convention Centre, where Xi is attending the inauguration ceremony of the city's new chief executive, John Lee.

Flags and commemorative banners declaring a "new era" of stability decorated main roads and walkways as part of the celebrations. 

Published : July 01, 2022

By : Reuters