China’s Xi in Hong Kong for anniversary as protests planned

Ng Han Guan, Associated Press

Traffic police on motorcycles ride in formation during a visit by the Chinese President in Hong Kong, Thursday, June 29, 2017. Hong Kong is planning a big party as it marks 20 years under Chinese rule. Fireworks, a gala variety show and Chinese military displays are among the official events planned to coincide with a visit by Xi starting Thursday for the occasion.

HONG KONG — Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Hong Kong Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing taking control of the former British colony, accompanied by a formidable layer of security as authorities showed little patience for pro-democracy protests.

After stepping off his Air China plane, Xi said he envisioned “stable development” of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” framework. Pro-democracy activists fear Beijing is undermining the principle — agreed upon when Britain handed over the city back to China — which guarantees Hong Kong can mostly run its own affairs and keep civil liberties including free speech until 2047.

Xi’s three-day visit culminates Saturday when he will oversee an inauguration ceremony for the Asian financial hub’s new leader, Carrie Lam.

Pro-democracy activists staged protests ahead of his visit and more were expected, including an annual march through the streets on Saturday that has drawn big crowds in the past. Hong Kong authorities were taking no chances with disruptions and deployed heavy security across the city.

Helicopters hovered overhead and police and barricades lined the streets around a downtown convention center and hotel complex where Xi was expected to spend most of his time. Officers questioned passers-by taking photos of the few protests allowed near the area. Authorities even glued the gaps between sidewalk paving stones in an effort to prevent them from being torn up and thrown by protesters.

Three pro-democracy groups said 26 of their members were arrested Wednesday evening on public nuisance charges for staging a sit-in at a giant flower sculpture near the…

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