Beijing is organizing the 25th anniversary of the return of the former crown colony as a triumph over the democratic movement. Criticism of China’s tough stance comes from Germany.
Hong Kong – It was an anniversary in Beijing tastes: Undeterred by the demonstrations, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his supporters celebrated the 25th anniversary of the return of the former British crown colony to China on Friday in Hong Kong. For the second year in a row, the Guard of Honor marched at the flag ceremony not in British, but with the goose pace of Chinese soldiers. On the other hand, the democratic movement in Hong Kong had nothing to celebrate again.
The protest march, as took place on July 1, was out of the question. Authorities urgently warned against gatherings. Police officers patrolled large parts of the city center.
From his return to China on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was to be governed by the “one country, two systems” principle. Hong Kong was also promised at the time that by 2047 they would enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” and many political freedoms. But two years ago, in response to ongoing protests against the government, Beijing introduced strict security laws in the financial metropolis and crushed the democratic movement.
Xi: “rise from the ashes”
The day before, shortly after his arrival, he made it clear how pleased Xi Jinping was with the result. The metropolis faced “major challenges” and “rose from its ashes,” said the Chinese head of state during his first visit in five years. Hong Kong has enjoyed “real democracy” since he returned to China, the president said in another speech on Friday, in which he also endorsed a “one country, two systems” governance system. However, it has to be implemented “correctly”. The president also reiterated that Hong Kong can only be ruled by “patriots”.
Critical observers paint a different picture of the situation. Since the controversial security law was passed, many have only spoken of “one country, one system.” Over the past two years, Hong Kong has experienced blow after blow, said Katja Drinhausen of the China Merics Institute in Berlin.
The arrests of opposition activists and politicians, electoral and educational reforms, and the liquidation of liberal media and civil society organizations are just the most important examples. “Beijing is strongly reaffirming its course and will encourage the Hong Kong government to introduce further repressive measures,” Drinhausen said.
Just three years ago, hundreds of thousands protested in the streets on a regular basis. Images of brutal clashes went around the world. “Now, at least superficially, peace has returned – and the Chinese government wants it to remain that way,” Drinhausen said.
The head of government is considered a loyal supporter of Beijing
Renata Alt (FDP), chairwoman of the Bundestag’s Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Committee, was also critical. “25 years after Hong Kong was handed over to communist China, it shows how brutally the freedoms and human rights of the people of Hong Kong were brutally betrayed,” said Alt. authoritarian control from Beijing is suffocating. Alt demanded that pro-democracy activists could be granted asylum in the EU.
John Lee, sworn in as the new prime minister on Friday, fits perfectly with Xi Jinping’s image of a stable Hong Kong. The former city security chief is considered a loyal supporter of Beijing. Security laws and “improvements” to the electoral system have moved Hong Kong “from chaos to prosperity,” Lee said in his inaugural speech. He vowed to make further progress in integrating the city into mainland China.
The mood is not only gloomy in the Hong Kong democracy movement. For many companies, the metropolis is no longer what it used to be. Foreign chambers of commerce complain of coronation measures that are just as harsh as in mainland China.
A trip to the once free economic metropolis in the world is no longer possible without a long hotel quarantine. In addition, Hong Kong residents do not come to mainland China without quarantine. At least for President Xi Jinping, these rules did not apply. In order to protect him and his wife Peng Liyuan from the virus at the ceremony, some 3,000 Hong Kong guests had to self-isolate beforehand.