Carrie Lam sworn in as Hong Kong's new leader

Posted July 02, 2017

Thousands joined an annual protest march in Hong Kong, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his visit to the city by warning against challenges to Beijing's sovereignty.

"Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government. or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses a red line and is absolutely impermissible", Xi said as he ended his trip.

Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was sworn-in as the new Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Saturday as the territory marks 20 years since its handover to China from Britain.

In the wake of the turnover in 1997, the Chinese government agreed that Hong Kong and the mainland would operate under a "one country, two systems" agreement. but Beijing no longer believes this setup to be in the best interests of the central government.

They're people like Weiqi Zhu, a derivatives trader at UBS in Hong Kong.

Observers said Xi's line was tougher than that of two predecessors despite his moderate presentation, while pan-democrats remained sceptical that Beijing could accept regular dialogue with democratic dissenters.

In many major Hong Kong newspapers, coverage of protests has been eclipsed by exhaustive accounts of Xi's itinerary and quotes from him, at a time when the media stands accused of succumbing to pressure from Beijing.

But in a stark and surprising announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, no longer had any practical significance.

The abduction of several Hong Kong booksellers, who sold publications critical of China's leaders, by mainland agents has also shaken confidence in Beijing's promise of non-interference, they say.

His comments are construed to mean that he had taken notice of a new wave of activists supporting greater autonomy for Hong Kong and even independence.

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Police said the demonstrators, including Wong who helped lead the 2014 "Occupy" street protests, were arrested for causing a public nuisance.

Beijing-backed civil servant Lam was chosen to be Hong Kong's next leader in March by a 1,200-person "election committee" stacked with pro-China and pro-establishment loyalists.

"We will be coming under Chinese rule and we don't know what will happen in 2047 if there is political instability", said 25-year old Hong Kong resident Dennis Ngan.

"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.

"We are willing, together with different sectors of Hong Kong society, to look back on Hong Kong's unusual course in the past 20 years", he told the crowds.

Commenting on Xi's speech, Law said it showed the president's "ignorance" about Hong Kong.

Many participants said they were marching in support of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.

Tensions also flared Friday afternoon as democracy campaigners and pro-China supporters swore and shouted at each other near the convention centre, with police separating the two sides.

A huge security operation has shut down large parts of Hong Kong, with thousands of police deployed to keep away demonstrators angry at Beijing's tightening grip on the freedoms of almost eight million people.

A police helicopter patrols behind Hong Kong flag as Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves the hotel, ahead of 20th anniversary of the handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong, June 29, 2017.