Government leaders were forced into a closed-loop system due to Covid-19, parts of the city were closed and many journalists were barred from events scheduled for Friday, illustrating the control of the Communist Party over the city after a wave of political repression that dismantled the democratic movement and crushed dissent.
Details of Mr Xi’s trip, his first outside mainland China since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, have been kept under wraps but he is expected to make appearances in Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday.
The Chinese leader, however, is likely to spend the night in the nearby mainland city of Shenzhen, according to local media.
People who will be in Xi’s orbit during his trip, including top government officials, have been told to limit contact, undergo daily PCR tests and spend the days leading up to the visit in a quarantine hotel.
“As a security measure, if we have to meet the supreme leader and other leaders closely, I think it is worth making closed-circuit arrangements,” the pro-Beijing politician told AFP. Regina IP.
Authorities have taken steps to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi Jinping’s stay in the city. National Security Police arrested at least nine people last week.
The League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of Hong Kong’s last remaining opposition political parties, said it would not demonstrate on July 1, after an exchange between national security officers and associated volunteers to the group.
LSD leaders told AFP their homes were searched and they also had conversations with police.
Chan Po-ying, chairwoman of the group, said she felt like she was being followed and watched over the past few days.
Hong Kong’s leading pollster said it would delay releasing the results of a government popularity survey “in response to suggestions from relevant government departments after their risk assessment”.
The anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China on July 1, 1997 has long been the occasion for widespread peaceful protests in the streets of the city. But, under the combined effect of health restrictions and a crackdown on dissent, mass gatherings have all but disappeared in Hong Kong in recent years.
– “Security reasons” –
Media coverage of Xi Jinping’s visit was strictly limited. On Wednesday, AFP confirmed that 13 local and international journalists had been denied accreditation to cover the handover celebrations.
Two AFP journalists were among those denied accreditation, a government official citing unspecified “security reasons”. A third AFP reporter then obtained accreditation.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed its “deep regret” at the rejections.
The government told the media that the decision was “a balance, as far as possible, between the needs of media work and security requirements”.
Some venues in the financial center were closed, including the high-speed train terminus, a Chinese opera performance venue and the Hong Kong Science Park.
A number of science park workers told AFP that they received no notification of the Chinese president’s visit, but were asked to work from home on Thursday.
Authorities have also sought to project an image of public support, including by mass-firing Hong Kong and Chinese flags in dozens of large public housing developments.
“It’s useless and it’s too much,” a resident of one of these sets, Chan, 26, told AFP in front of the small flags placed on each floor in a stairwell.