Xi Jinping lands in Hong Kong to cement China's grip on the city-state

This is the Chinese president's first visit to Hong Kong since he took power in 2013.

Candlelight vigil in Hong Kong commemorates 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdownIBT

Chinese President Xi Jinping has landed in Hong Kong to firm Beijing's grip on the city-state, which has been witnessing pro-democracy protests in the past few years. This is the first time Xi is visiting Hong Kong since he came to power in 2013.

Xi's visit is expected to be marked by mixed emotions ranging from mass demonstrations to celebrations. The official occasion that has brought Xi to Hong Kong is the 20<sup>th anniversary of the city state's handover by Britain to China in 1997 under the "one country, two systems" formula. Xi, who encountered an unprecedented campaign for fuller autonomy for Hong Kong during his initial months of presidency, will preside over the annual tradition of the handover ceremony.

The quasi-sovereign region is under heavy security lockdown as the Hong Kong administration does not want to jeopardise the painstakingly orchestrated trip of Xi. The Wan Chai district, where Xi will stay for the next three days, has been turned into a fortress. Of the 29,000 police officers in Hong Kong, 11,000 will be engaged in security arrangements for the Chinese president.

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High-profile pro-democracy figures such as Joshua Wong and Nathan Law were detained by law enforcement agencies for causing "public nuisance" ahead of Xi's arrival. They were among 20 people detained so that pro-democracy protests do not slip out of hand.

"Hong Kong people will continue to fight for democracy until the day we get our rights," Wong told the crowd of protesters before he was taken away by the police. "The world is watching, only Xi Jinping cannot see," he added.

"Hong Kong has been lied to for 20 years. Let's retake Hong Kong for a real and fully fledged democracy," read a statement from the pro-democracy campaigners. The rally organisers have called for massive gatherings across Hong Kong on Saturday, 1 July, with tens of thousands expected to take part in protests just as when Xi will depart.

Even during the height of pro-democracy calls, Xi had not set foot in Hong Kong or directly addressed protesters. The Beijing-backed Hong Kong administration had made sure there was no comprise from their side by relentlessly preventing demonstrations from taking place.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive at the airport in Hong Kong, China, ahead of celebrations marking the city's handover from British to Chinese ruleBobby Yip/Reuters

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