July first marks the 25th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong.
Chinese President Xi Jinping,.. delivered a keynote speech in the city on Friday to commemorate the anniversary.
Xi said that Hong Kong has emerged from chaos and should work toward achieving greater stability and prosperity.
He added that the city overcame many challenges like social unrest and the pandemic but stressed that any element interfering with stability must be removed.
President Xi also officiated the inauguration ceremony of Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, John Lee.
For the next five years,.. Hong Kong is in the hands of a new leader.
"I, John Lee, hereby swear, I take up the role of Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Zone of the People's Republic of China.
Lee was Hong Kong's former security chief.
He played a leading role during the crackdown against pro-democracy figures in 2019, and the implementation of the national security law in 2020,.. which many say has been used to crush opposition.
Despite such political unrest,.. Xi claimed that "true democracy" began in Hong Kong, ever since it had been handed over by the UK 25 years ago.
He also pointed out that Hong Kong continues to maintain a high level of autonomy,.. under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy.. which was granted in 1997 to ensure the city sovereignty from China.
However, many would disagree.
Western countries, like the UK,.. have voiced concern as they believe much of Hong Kong's autonomy and freedom are now lost.
“But on the 25th anniversary of the handover, we simply cannot avoid the fact that, for some time now, Beijing has been failing to comply with its obligations. It's a state of affairs that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home."
Washington has also criticized China's Hong Kong policies.
The U.S. National Security Council said in a statement Thursday that the world is witnessing a dismantling of Hong Kong's democratic institutions.
Choi Min-jung, Arirang News.