More rumors of a Xi visit to Hong Kong circulate ahead of the handover anniversary

More rumors of a Xi visit to Hong Kong circulate ahead of the handover anniversary
FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

There is now more chatter about President Xi potentially visiting Hong Kong for the region’s July 1 handover anniversary. SCMP reported Wednesday that unidentified sources have said around 1,000 people involved in the celebrations, including security and police, will be entering a COVID-free bubble to protect a “very, very important person.”

While the specifics haven’t been revealed, in order to create this COVID-free zone, something being considered is sending everyone involved, including both current and incoming chief executives Lam and Lee, respectively, into hotel quarantine for seven days. This may even extend eventually to everyone attending the ceremony. And according to local media, the two hotels booked for Xi five years ago, including the Grand Hyatt, haven’t taken public bookings for any dates between June 28 and July 1.

Meanwhile, Lam has said that Hong Kong won’t reopen with the mainland anytime soon. This is while 2.7 million people go into lockdown in Shanghai in an attempt to contain an outbreak, and Hong Kong sees over 600 cases as sub-variants continue to spread around the city.

Key comments:

“Reopening the border with the mainland is a major challenge. I can tell you it is not possible in the short term based on our discussions from September to December last year,” said Lam on Thursday at a press conference.

“The odds are still in favor of Xi’s visit because he would be watched internationally, giving him a global presence and additional mileage to assert his supremacy above others preceding the 20th Congress,” said Kenneth Chan, an associate professor specializing in politics at Hong Kong Baptist University.