This July 1, Mr. Xi will also witness the entry into office of the new administration of Hong Kong, according to the new China agency.

If this participation is in person, it would be his first outing from mainland China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But neither the news agency nor the Hong Kong authorities explicitly specified whether the head of state would go to the city or participate in the events by videoconference.

“President Xi Jinping will attend a meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland,” China New said.

Chinese presidents usually participate in the inauguration of new chief executives of the semi-autonomous region. Xi’s last visit to the former British colony, surrounded by a heavy police presence, was in 2017 for the swearing-in of outgoing leader Carrie Lam.

The presidential visit would be an opportunity to highlight Beijing’s regained authority over Hong Kong, after three years of political upheaval.

July 1 will mark the midpoint of the period of semi-autonomy for Hong Kong, in the name of the principle of “one country, two systems”, which must remain in force until 2047.

Beijing had promised not to change Hong Kong’s liberal political system for a period of 50 years.

But the national security law imposed after huge and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019 suppressed any dissenting voices, sending many opposition figures to prison. And an electoral reform reserves all seats in the Legislative Council for Hong Kongers who can be labeled as “patriots”.

John Lee, who will be sworn in as the new chief executive on Friday, oversaw the controversial police response to the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

He said he was delighted with this presidential participation in his swearing-in and thanked Mr. Xi for his “consideration and support” towards Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong is at the crucial stage of moving from chaos to governance, and gradually to prosperity,” John Lee said in a statement on Saturday.

The current coronavirus epidemic had cast doubt on Mr. Xi’s presence at this double event.

Hong Kong, which applies a less strict health policy than in mainland China while maintaining a “zero Covid” objective, is currently recording more than 1,000 cases per day for 7.4 million inhabitants. On Thursday, two senior officials tested positive for coronavirus and were placed in quarantine.

Ms. Lam assured however that the situation is “not alarming”, with hospitalizations remaining at a low level.

Due to the difference in health policy between Hong Kong and mainland China, Hong Kongers called upon to come into contact with Chinese leaders will certainly have to observe quarantine before the ceremony.

According to local media, government officials entered a “bubble” to minimize the risk of infection before their participation in the handover.

After being appointed in May by a select committee, John Lee traveled to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping.

“The future administration will definitely create a new atmosphere and write a new chapter in Hong Kong’s development,” Xi said at the time.