Xi Jinping tells reporters he wants to map out the future on three-day trip that coincides with 20th anniversary of handover by British
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has vowed to bring new glory to Hong Kong at the start of a highly sensitive three-day tour of the former British colony designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return to China.
In a brief speech after landing at Hong Kongs international airport on Thursday morning, the Communist party chief said he had come to map out the future of this semi-autonomous city of 7.3 million citizens.
Im pleased to have set foot in Hong Kong once again Hong Kong has always been in my heart, said Chinas authoritarian leader, whose almost five years in power have coincided with the most politically volatile period in the citys post-handover history.
Xis rare inspection tour his first to Hong Kong since becoming Chinas top leader in late 2012 has been timed to coincide with celebrations of two decades since it was handed back to China, on 1 July 1997, after more than 150 years of British colonial rule.
Huge crowds are expected on Saturday, with mass pro-democracy demonstrations and a 23-minute pro-Beijing firework display over Victoria Harbour planned.
Swaths of the city have been placed under an unprecedented security lockdown, with military helicopters buzzing through the skies and about 11,000 police officers more than a third of the citys force being deployed in an attempt to shelter Xi from the protesters.
The area surrounding Xis hotel, the Grand Hyatt, and the Hong Kong convention and exhibition centre, where the main handover anniversary ceremony will take place, have been isolated and surrounded by two-metre high water-filled barriers.
Speaking after his arrival, Xi said the celebrations of Hong Kongs return to the motherland represented a happy occasion for the country as well as for Hong Kong. I wholeheartedly wish Hong Kong will create a brighter future, he added.