Protests as new Hong Kong leader sworn in

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Hong Kong celebrates the 20th anniversary of Chinese rule today.

The Sino-British declaration said Hong Kong would be a "Special Administrative Region" of China, and would retain its freedoms and way of life for 50 years after the handover date on July 1, 1997.

Xi's visit comes amid heightened tension between China and the former British colony, where many are concerned at increasing interference by Beijing in the city's affairs, despite the promise of wide-ranging autonomy under the "two systems" agreement.

It also represents an important achievement of close collaboration among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao under the "one country, two systems" framework, he added.

As a result, the number of mainland-owned brokerages in Hong Kong has surpassed their local and foreign peers in recent years. More than 1,000 mainland companies had floated in Hong Kong by the end of previous year, accounting for 51 percent of the total.

This is the story of the lavish handover ceremony that took place in 1997.

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President Xi Jinping adopted a speak-softly-but-carry-a-big-stick approach yesterday, offering a chance for dissenters to be engaged but also warning that those who threatened national sovereignty would not be tolerated - and those who heard him took note.

An official protest zone near the harbourfront convention centre where Xi was guest of honour at an anniversary banquet and variety show was heavily patrolled as dozens of demonstrators gathered there chanting: "End one-party dictatorship!".

When Hong Kong was first returned to China, China watchers assessed that the process would liberalize mainland China.

Xi spoke in a televised address after swearing in new Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who is already being cast by critics as a China stooge in a city where many are angry at Beijing's tightening grip on the freedoms of its almost eight million people.

During his visit Xi has pledged support for Hong Kong and assured that its semi-autonomous system of government is intact.

"We are calling on them to. pay attention to the voices of Hong Kong people when formulating their policies, not just to focus on the "one country" part", Au said.

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"This has given businesses the trust, confidence and predictability to thrive in the region", Leung said in his remarks on Wednesday in NY at an event organized by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR.

Lam's swearing in by Xi was deeply symbolic for frustrated activists who pushed for fully free leadership elections during the 2014 Umbrella Movement rallies but failed to win concessions.

"More and more Chinese companies would like to list on the Hong Kong exchange, so they are all in China, and they're talking Mandarin", Hon says.

Xi has urged Hong Kong to boost its security and patriotic education. Nine democracy protesters, including Joshua Wong and lawmaker "long hair" Leung Kwok-hung, were bundled into police vans while several pro-China groups remained, cheering loudly and waving red China flags.

For China, Hong Kong is no longer the gateway to the world or the key to economic growth. The key themes of the protests were reclaim Hong Kong and release of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace prize victor who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Democracy campaigners clashed with pro-Beijing supporters near the venue, with police separating the two sides.

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Lam prevailed over a much more popular rival in a selection process decried by many as "fake democracy", with only 777 votes from a 1,200-seat panel of mostly pro-Beijing elites.


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