N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
It happened, on July 1, in the shadow of the almost all attention attracting war in Ukraine.
In his first speech in Hong Kong after the pro-democracy protests in 2019, China’s President said that the territory must be governed ‘only by patriots’. Bold language on the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong’s new chief executive John Lee, the man who played a crucial role in crushing the 2019 protests. President Xi left in no doubt his determination to continue the crackdown on dissent, despite international accusations it is failing to respect the 50 years of ‘one country two systems’ autonomy China guaranteed after the British left 25 years ago, on July 1, 1997. And for whom it was not clear yet, Xi added: ‘All Hong Kongers should be able to respect and safeguard the fundamental socialist system of the nation.’ His visit to the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation underscored the President’s message on the primary of security. Xi promised to strengthen the military power to safeguard the national security.
Xi mentioned support for Hong Kong’s status as a global financial and trading centre, but he did not reveal any policy about it. In his first speech as chief executive Lee, a former policeman and security official, said Hong Kong had overcome foreign interference that had ‘threatened the national security of the country’. China wants the financial position of Hong Kong to continue, after cracking down on autonomy, which is not completely gone but reduced to a minimum.
The financial world turned out to be moderately enthusiastic.