December 3, 2022

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Xi visits Hong Kong amid high security and inside a Covid bubble.

HONG KONG — Given that the pandemic erupted in 2020, China’s major leader, Xi Jinping, has been hunkered down in a virus-no cost bubble inside of his country’s shut borders. On Thursday, he remaining the safe confines of the mainland for the initially time, arriving in Hong Kong for a tightly scripted pay a visit to aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city.

Mr. Xi began a two-working day take a look at by stepping off a significant-speed train at the West Kowloon station that connects the city to the mainland. The station was sealed off by massive group-regulate obstacles and hundreds of police officers. Inside of, he and his wife, Peng Liyuan, had been greeted by schoolchildren and supporters who waved flower bouquets and small Chinese and Hong Kong flags in front of billboards that browse, “A New Period: Balance, Prosperity, Prospect.” Lion dancers carried out as the neatly ordered rows of greeters chanted, “Warmly welcome, warmly welcome.”

Mr. Xi has not left China in 29 months, a obvious halt in international journey for the chief that suggests the good worry Beijing has about the risk of publicity to Covid. In planning for his visit, Hong Kong erected an elaborate, shut-loop bubble to consider to continue to keep the virus out.

Mr. Xi’s determination to take a look at Hong Kong despite a recent rise in infections in the metropolis underscores the importance of signaling his authority more than the previous British colony. This is Mr. Xi’s initial time in Hong Kong because he enforced a sweeping crackdown on the town after professional-democracy protesters mounted a really serious challenge to Beijing’s rule in 2019.

“Hong Kong has withstood one particular intense problem right after yet another, and overcome a person hazard following a further,” he stated in a short speech on his arrival. “After the storm, Hong Kong has been reborn from the ashes, demonstrating flourishing vitality.”

The intently choreographed stop by, with handful of publicly introduced aspects and a significant amount of stability, indicates that Mr. Xi’s public interactions will be limited and protesters will be kept away, avoiding unwelcome surprises.

The authorities established up stability perimeters all-around regions where Mr. Xi was anticipated to check out, setting up temporary fences and tall, drinking water-stuffed plastic barriers and closing roads and community transport stations. Drones have been banned across the city.

“Even even though he has not been absent from mainland China since early 2020, Xi thinks that, in conditions of both equally his status and level of popularity, it would be excellent for him to take a look at just for quite a few hrs,” mentioned Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese College of Hong Kong, referring to neighborhood news stories that Mr. Xi would not remain in Hong Kong right away and would alternatively travel back again to the bordering Chinese town of Shenzhen.

Mr. Xi is anticipated to show up at the swearing-in of the city’s upcoming leader, John Lee, a former protection chief, and his authorities on Friday, as every single Chinese chief has performed given that the city’s formal handover ceremony in 1997.