Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed Monday to uphold Hong Kong’s special status on the eve of a huge military parade in Beijing that risks being upstaged by more protests in the semi-autonomous city.
Some 15,000 soldiers will march across Tiananmen Square and the latest military technology will be displayed as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, a patriotic show of strength to demonstrate the country’s emergence as a global superpower.
But while Beijing is preparing for huge celebrations, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong threaten to steal the spotlight, with authorities in the financial hub Monday warning of increased violence by “rioters”.
Xi told a reception in Beijing on Monday night that China would “continue to fully and faithfully implement the principles of ‘one country, two systems'” in Hong Kong.
“We are confident that with the full backing of the motherland and the concerted efforts of our fellow Chinese in Hong Kong and Macau who love the motherland… (Hong Kong) will prosper and progress alongside the mainland,” Xi said.
The Chinese president is expected to speak again ahead of Tuesday’s parade at the Gate of Heavenly Peace — the same spot where Chairman Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
After the military march a civilian parade will involve 100,000 civilians and 70 floats, with organisers releasing 70,000 doves and 70,000 balloons before an evening performance and fireworks in Tiananmen.
The capital city was decked in red Chinese flags, flower displays, lanterns and political slogans ahead of the tightly-choreographed festivities.