President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong Thursday, a day before the official ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the British handover of the island.
After arriving by train, Xi explained how Hong Kong has overcome numerous challenges over the years.
“In the past few years, Hong Kong has withstood severe tests again and again, overcoming risks and challenges one by one. After the wind and rain, Hong Kong has risen from the ashes, and also demonstrated a high level of vigor and vitality."
He also stressed that the 'one country, two systems' will bring a brighter future to Hong Kong.
Under Xi's leadership, Beijing has reshaped Hong Kong during the past two years, cracking down on protests and freedom of speech.
A more patriotic curriculum has been introduced at schools.
Marking the occasion, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused Beijing of failing to keep its promises.
“But on the 25th anniversary of the handover, we simply cannot avoid the fact that, for some time now, Beijing has been failing to comply with its obligations. It's a state of affairs that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home."
In a video message posted on Twitter, he stressed that his country was not going to give up on Hong Kong.
The anniversary marks the halfway point of the 50-year governance model agreed upon between London and Beijing.
But, the UK has become increasingly critical of Chinese rule there, especially following Beijing's implementation of a harsh national security law in 2020.
Washington also criticized China's Hong Kong policies.
The spokesperson of the U.S. National Security Council said in a statement Thursday that the world is witnessing a dismantling of Hong Kong's democratic institutions as well as unprecedented pressures on many areas.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.