First operational aircraft carrier Liaoning of China arrives in Hong Kong
Marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China, Liaoning warship made its first trip outside mainland China.
It has followed Xi Jinping’s first visit as Chinese President to Hong Kong last week.
During the trip, which had been spoiled by protests, President Xi had warned that any challenge to the Beijing central government was “impermissible.”
The political climate of Hong Kong has grown tense in recent years with increasing calls for self determination and even independence.
Beijing in 2014 had said that it would allow direct election of the city’s leader, however only a list of pre-approved candidates would be eligible to take part in the elections. This had lead to mass protests which were known as the umbrella and demanded universal suffrage.
Mr Xi had visited the city amid tight police security. After his departure on Saturday, thousands of people had marched in an annual event calling for more democracy.
Some have viewed the Liaoning’s presence as a show of force by Beijing, howeverr many in Hong Kong have also queued for free tickets to tour the ship.
Liaoning has been accompanied by three warships, and it will be anchored near Hong Kong’s Tsing Yi island for five days.
Ever since the 1997 handover, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been stationed in Hong Kong. However it keeps an extremely low profile. The soldiers of PLA are very rarely, if ever, seen on the streets in uniform.
This is precisely the reason why the very public visit of the Liaoning is so significant, just a few days after the Chinese President Xi Jinping had warned the city against independence forces.
China watchers have said that its very presence is an unprecedented show of military force in rebellious Hong Kong and the very fact that it will be open to the public is an additional demonstration of China’s soft power.
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