Xi Jinping will make his first presidential visit to Hong Kong today ahead of the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to China from the British.
Signed on July 1, 1997, a Sino-British Joint Declaration stipulated that Hong Kong be governed under the “one country, two systems” policy until 2047. Regardless, Beijing has sought to maximise its authority over the island; in 2014, Beijing announced restrictive reforms to Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Hong Kong has become an increasingly polarised place over the past two decades, with some advocating for increased autonomy from the mainland while others push for the enlargement of Beijing’s authority over the city. Tensions came to a head in 2014 following the announcement of the aforementioned electoral reforms; pro-democracy campaigners launched the “umbrella movement” demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the city’s streets.
Given Hong Kong’s contentious political climate, mass demonstrations are expected from both sides ahead of Saturday’s celebrations. Beijing expects as much: over 10,000 armed Hong Kong security personnel will be deployed to protect the state’s leader.
Max is Foreign Brief's Chief Executive Officer. A Latin America specialist, Max is an expert in regional political and economic trends, focusing particularly on the Southern Cone.