China’s Xi re­news com­mit­ment to Hong Kong amid protests

The Morning Call - - OBITUARIES | NATION & WORLD - By Christo­pher Bodeen

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.

NOEL CELIS/GETTY-AFP

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping raises a toast Mon­day at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing.

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