Hong Kong, July 1 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that any efforts in Hong Kong “to challenge the power of the central government” are “absolutely impermissible”, as the territory on Saturday marked 20 years since its handover to Beijing from Britain.
“Any attempt to endanger national sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government and the authority…or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible,” Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying.
His comments came as clashes broke out between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing demonstrators in the territory.
Protest leaders including high-profile campaigner Joshua Wong were detained, reports CNN.
The pro-democracy party, Demosisto, said police had arrested five of its members, and four members from the League of Social Democrats.
Many parts of the city were shut down as part of the security operation.
In his address at an inaugural ceremony of the fifth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Xi said that Hong Kong cannot afford to be torn apart by reckless moves or internal rift amid the intense global competition.
“Making everything political or deliberately creating differences and provoking confrontation will not resolve problems,” the President said, adding “On the contrary, it can only severely hinder Hong Kong’s economic and social development.”
The concept of “one country, two systems” gives expression to the vision of peace and harmony in the Chinese culture, and it embodies a very important tenet, namely, seeking broad common ground while setting aside major differences, Xi said.
He also said that Hong Kong should always focus on development as the top priority.
“Development, an abiding pursuit, is crucial for Hong Kong’s survival, and it holds the golden key to resolving various issues,” he said.
Xi’s remarks came after Carrie Lam, 60, was sworn-in as Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive, who became the territory’s first female leader.
Lam, who was elected in March by a mainly pro-China committee, called for unity to heal the city’s “divided society”.
The newly-appointed leader 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.
“As we capitalise on our strengths and harness the opportunities presented by our country’s development, Hong Kong’s future is indeed bright and promising,” Lam added.
Xi left Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon before the start of an annual July 1 pro-democracy march, which usually sees tens of thousands of people pack the city’s streets.