As Hong Kong prepares to mark for the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, there has been much talk that President Xi Jinping will be paying a 4-day visit to the city to celebrate the occasion and also officiate at the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her new cabinet on July 1.
Government officials have, however, remained very tight-lipped about the exact arrangements for the celebration activities and the inauguration ceremony, let alone whether Xi is really coming to Hong Kong and his potential schedule if he does make the trip.
According to some people who have received invitations from the government to attend the events, all they have been told is that they should make sure they are available on June 30 and July 1.
With regard to the details of the celebration events, the government has only notified the invitees that there will be a gala night on June 30, and then flag-raising and inauguration ceremonies the following day. Yet, as to who is going to officiate at the ceremonies, the administration has refrained from giving any further detail.
It is expected that if President Xi comes to Hong Kong, which is pretty likely, the Hong Kong SAR government will accord the dignitary the highest priority and enforce the most rigorous security arrangements to guarantee his safety.
However, since Xi is widely known for his “common touch”, it is believed that apart from attending all the official events and reviewing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong, he is also likely to visit the community and reach out to the average Hong Kong citizens during his trip, and probably won’t return to Beijing until July 2.
Ten years ago, when the then president Hu Jintao visited Hong Kong to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the handover, he reviewed the PLA garrison, visited the Hong Kong Sports Institute as well as two local families at their homes in Ma On Shan.
However, after he had finished officiating at the inauguration ceremony of the new SAR administration and the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor on the morning of July 1, Hu immediately returned to the mainland through Shenzhen, avoiding the pro-democracy rally that took place in the afternoon that same day.
But now, if President Xi stays in Hong Kong until July 2, he may be able to personally hear the voice and demand of the protesters.
If that happens, it will definitely be a good sign. If Xi doesn’t avoid the July 1 rally like the plague, it will show that he is not afraid of suffering potential embarrassment and that he is willing to listen to the views of the people of Hong Kong.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 22
Translation by Alan Lee
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