A look into China's People's Liberation Army base in Hong Kong

A look into China's People's Liberation Army base in Hong Kong

Lam said she will "resolutely do everything" within her ability to implement the "one country, two systems" principle, uphold the Basic Law of the HKSAR and defend the rule of law. This was meant to provide Hong Kong autonomy.

Bruce Lui, senior journalism lecturer at Hong Kong's Baptist University, said Saturday's march was also full of anger over the ruling Chinese Communist Party's treatment of Liu Xiaobo, a peaceful advocate of constitutional reform who was recently granted medical parole only when his liver cancer had reached a terminal stage.

Mr Xi's three-day visit aimed at stirring Chinese patriotism prompted a massive police presence. These were below human height when then president Jiang Zemin visited in 2001 and just above human height when his successor Hu Jintao came here in 2012.

Hailing "one country, two systems" a great pioneering initiative by China, Xi said its practice, featuring socialism in the main body of the country and capitalism in certain regions, is unprecedented in human political history.

"It is like the emperor has come to town", said Ms Polly Chan, 60, a retired church minister.

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, will shortly make its maiden port call at Hong Kong. About 10,000 or a third of the city's police officers were mobilised.

Thousands of protesters joined the rally organized by a pro-democracy coalition at its starting point in downtown Victoria Park.

"So the carpet, so to speak, has been pulled from under Hong Kongers' feet", said barrister and former democratic lawmaker Alan Leong.

Xi was due to return to Beijing midday Saturday.

As a result, the Chinese economy has expanded rapidly in the past 20 years, while Hong Kong's position as an worldwide financial center has declined in relative terms.

Xi arrived in Hong Kong this week to attend a series of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the British handover, as well as to preside over the inauguration of the city's new leader, Carrie Lam, by convention.

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More than 100,000 protesters are expected to take to the streets for an annual march in the afternoon to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover.

He oversaw the swearing in of Ms Lam, the newly-elected chief executive of the territory, along with the rest of her cabinet.

Xi has urged Hong Kong to boost its security and patriotic education.

Out on the streets, marchers carried punch-bags and toilets bearing the faces of Hong Kong's leaders, as well as a cardboard cutout of visiting President Xi Jinping holding a yellow umbrella in a reference to the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement for universal suffrage.

Thousands of protesters demanded the preservation of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong as the Chinese government in Beijing issued its strongest warning yet to the semi-autonomous island.

But he told the new government at a meeting to "strike against and contain independence activities".

Hong Kong authorities released 26 pro-democracy protesters on Friday who were arrested before Xi's arrival.

"Now Hong Kong has returned to the motherland's embrace for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as a historical document, no longer has any practical significance, and it is not at all binding for the central government's management over Hong Kong", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

China's apparent willingness to renege on its obligations to Hong Kong was discussed by Chris Patten, Hong Kong's final British governor, when he spoke to TIME last month.

Lam said she recognized the political and economic challenges facing Hong Kong but added that the city's problems can not be solved overnight.

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