A group of residents bring the national flags to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to motherland at Tamar Park in Hong Kong.  (CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong community said they were greatly uplifted and encouraged by President Xi Jinping’s visit amid the pandemic, which demonstrated his great care and support for the city as it emerged stronger after withstanding a string of recent challenges. 

Residents made the remarks after Xi kicked off his inspection tour of Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the city’s grand 25th anniversary of its return to the motherland. He will attend a celebration meeting and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1 and inspect the region. 

President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, was warmly received by a crowd of Hong Kong residents, which included local students and representatives of various sectors, waving national and HKSAR flags at the railway station

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After arriving at the West Kowloon Railway Station by train on Thursday afternoon, Xi said he feels great care and concern for Hong Kong, and expressed great confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle and in the city’s future.

Lawmaker Joephy Chan Wing-yan said Xi’s visit amid the pandemic outbreak reflects his great care for Hong Kong and his firm support of “one country, two systems”.

“It gave us a strong shot in the arm and proved that the motherland will always be the strong backing of Hong Kong, no matter what difficulties the city faces,” Chan said.

Chan said this year’s celebration is quite meaningful, as the city has regained stability following a period of chaos and has successfully held three major elections under the revamped electoral system.

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The visit, a strong endorsement of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, will greatly boost Hong Kong people’s confidence in the new political system, and guide the city’s future development under the nation’s blueprint, Chan said. 

A woman takes a photo of three children standing on the podium marked with the logo of the HKSAR's 25th anniversary, June 30, 2022. (CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY)

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Hong Kong lawmaker and convener of the Executive Council for the new-term SAR government, said that — thanks to the efforts of the central government led by Xi during the social unrest, and the changes made to the city’s electoral system — Hong Kong now has a good foundation to start anew. 

Ip said that Xi’s visit is of great importance, and that many in the city are excited about it, as he played an important role in helping the city transition from chaos to order and peace. 

Ip said Xi attaches great importance to the city’s development in innovation, technology and culture, which will facilitate the city’s integration into the nation’s development. 

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Innes Tang, 57 and chairman of Politihk Social Strategic, a local non-profit organization, was thrilled to see Xi in Hong Kong, saying that his visit here is of significance, and a boost of encouragement to the residents at a time when the city is set to make strides towards achieving new goals under the new-term government. 

Xi’s visit to the city is his first trip outside the Chinese mainland since the pandemic struck in early 2020, demonstrating his great care for the city, Tang said. 

In Tang’s opinion, Xi’s visit and his remarks upon arrival served as a pat on the back for Hong Kong. “With the strong backing of the central government, we are brimming with confidence for Hong Kong’s future,” Tang said. 

Young pianist Ricky Chiu Lam-ho, who is 25 and was born in 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to the motherland, said Xi’s return to the city five years after his last trip shows Xi’s continuing care and concern for the city. Chiu, a senior student at a conservatory in Vienna, returned to Hong Kong from Austria to attend the 25th anniversary celebrations. While waiting for Xi’s arrival, the youngster said he was particularly looking forward to finding out what Xi’s plans are for the city and its future. 

His questions were answered by Xi in his speech at the station. Chiu believes the HKSAR will play an essential role in the country’s development by making good use of its stable and superior social conditions, just as Xi outlined in his speech: “as long as one country, two systems is upheld unswervingly, Hong Kong will surely have an even brighter future and make new greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Xi, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, was warmly received by a crowd of Hong Kong residents, which included local students and representatives of various sectors, waving national and HKSAR flags at the railway station. A lion dance with a drum and trumpet was also performed for the occasion. The sound of the instruments echoed through the station, which was decorated with colorful banners and billboards celebrating the grand anniversary.

In 2017, Xi also made a three-day inspection tour of the city to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland. He met with officials, social leaders and youngsters, witnessed the signing of major cross-boundary cooperation pacts, and inspected key infrastructure.