Xi to visit HK for first time as President
HONG KONG: President Xi Jinping will come to Hong Kong next week to mark 20 years since the city was handed back to China by Britain, local media said, in a visit that will be incendiary to activists.
Although widely expected, officials had not so far said whether Mr Xi will make the trip, his first to Hong Kong since becoming president in 2013.
The South China Morning Post reported for the first time on Friday that Mr Xi's visit had been "confirmed", citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the visit.
This comes at a time when Beijing stands accused of squeezing the semi-autonomous city's freedoms and frustrations have led to the emergence of a new independence movement calling for Hong Kong to break from the mainland.
Protesters say they are preparing to gather during the handover celebrations and Mr Xi's visit will be shrouded in a huge security operation.
His itinerary includes touring the garrison of China's People's Liberation Army in central Hong Kong, as well as visiting an infrastructure project, the Post said.
He will arrive on Thursday with his wife Peng Liyuan and stay until Saturday July 1, the handover anniversary date, when he will inaugurate the city's new leader Carrie Lam, the report added.
Hong Kong was handed back to China by colonial power Britain in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" deal designed to protect its freedoms and way of life for 50 years. - AFP