China’s Xi renews commitment to Hong Kong amid protests
BEIJING — Chinese Communist Party leader and President Xi Jinping on Monday renewed his government’s commitment to allowing Hong Kong to manage its own affairs amid continuing anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Xi made his remarks at a reception on the eve of a massive celebration of the People’s Republic’s 70th anniversary that threatens to be marred by clashes between police and antigovernment demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Demonstrators and police clashed for a second straight day Sunday in Hong Kong, sparking further chaos in the city’s business and shopping belt and drawing fears of more ugly scenes during the weeklong National Day holiday.
“We will continue to fully and faithfully implement the principles oOf` ne country, two systems’ (and) `Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong,’ ” Xi said according to a printed copy of his remarks.
China’s approach is to ensure that Hong Kong and its fellow semi-autonomous region of Macao “prosper and progress alongside the mainland and embrace an even brighter future,” Xi said.
Earlier Monday, Xi led other top officials in paying respects to the founder of the Communist state, Mao Zedong, ahead of the celebrations emphasizing China’s rise to global prominence.
Xi bowed three times to Mao’s statue at his mausoleum in the center of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and paid his respects to Mao’s embalmed corpse, which has lain in state in the chamber since soon after his death in 1976. It was believed to be the first visit to the mausoleum by Xi and other officials since 2013, the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth.
Xi also ascended the nearby Monument to the People’s Heroes to pay further tribute on what has been designated Martyr’s Day, just ahead of Tuesday’s National Day festivities, which will be marked by a massive military parade through the center of the city of 20 million people.
Sept. 30 was designated Martyr’s Day by China’s legislature in 2014, a year after Xi became president and began redoubling propaganda efforts to promote patriotism and glorify the party.
The nationwide celebrations seek to highlight China’s transformation from an impoverished state ravaged by Japan’s World War II invasion and a following civil war into the world’s second-largest economy.
On Tuesday, Xi is expected to preside from atop iconic Tiananmen Gate over a parade that will display China’s rapidly developing arsenal, possibly including the nuclear-capable Dongfeng 41 missile that could reach the U.S. in 30 minutes. Plans call for 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment to take part in the event.
The protracted unrest in Hong Kong, approaching four months, has meanwhile battered the city’s economy, with tourism plunging.
Many people view China as chipping away at the autonomy and freedoms Hong Kong was promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, while Beijing has accused the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting the unrest in a bid to smear its reputation and weaken its control.
President Xi Jinping raises a toast Monday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.