(TibetanReview.net, Jun27, 2017) – Days ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong for its 20th anniversary of handover from British rule, pro-democracy protesters have on Jun 25 draped a black flag over a statue symbolising the event. Protesters have said they were preparing to gather during the handover celebrations. Xi’s visit will be shrouded in a huge security operation.
In the face of attempts by security personnel to stop them from climbing on the famous tourist attraction, high-profile student campaigner Joshua Wong and a dozen demonstrators attached the black cloth to the giant golden bauhinia flower on Hong Kong’s harbour front in an early morning protest, reported the AFP Jun 26.
The sculpture of the bauhinia, which became the emblem of Hong Kong after the handover, was a present to the city from China in 1997 and stands outside the convention centre where Xi will attend anniversary events during a three-day visit starting on Jun 29.
The report said police were called to take the flag down while the protesters chanted “democratic self-determination for Hong Kong’s future” and “one country, two systems has been a lie for 20 years”, referring to Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status.
There are increasing concern in Hong Kong that the “one country, two systems” deal made when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, allowing the city rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech, was being trampled upon by Beijing. Its interferences in Hong Kong’s affairs have been seen in a range of areas, from politics to education and media.
Massive protests for democracy, including for the election of the special administrative region’s Chief Executive, have only led to hardening of Beijing’s position. This led to calls for self-determination or even full independence from China for the first time.
Wong’s political party, Demosisto, is said to want a public referendum on Hong Kong’s future in 2047, the year the handover agreement guaranteeing the city’s way of life and liberties expires.
Xi’s visit will be his first since becoming president in 2013 and will culminate with the inauguration of Hong Kong’s new leader, Carrie Lam, on Jul 1. She was not the most popular candidate, but she was Beijing’s choice for the post.