uAA News Desk China s one country two systems model of ruling Hong Kong has worked in protecting the city and must continue long term says Xi Jinping The Chinese leader mounted a stern defence of the political system in a speech in Hong Kong following recent international criticism BBC reports Hong Kong is marking 25 years since Britain returned the city to China It is under tight security as it hosts Mr Xi who is on his first trip outside of the mainland in two years Under one country two systems Hong Kong is supposed to be governed in a way that gives it a high degree of autonomy and protects freedom of speech and assembly and other rights not found in mainland China But in recent years China has been criticised for increasing its control of Hong Kong and enacting laws and reforms that stifle free speech and dissent The one country two systems principle arose out of an agreement between Britain and China and is enshrined in law in Hong Kong The protections run out in 2047 a deadline which many in Hong Kong have long been worried about On Friday Mr Xi said it must be adhered to over the long run the clearest sign yet that China intends to preserve the political model which critics say has already been compromised to suit Beijing Flanked by the Chinese and Hong Kong flags on stage Mr Xi defended the system as having worked in protecting Hong Kong s prosperity and stability as well as China s fundamental interests in the past 25 years One country two systems has been tested and proved time and again and there is no reason to change such a good system he said to applause from the audience comprising mostly of the city s pro-Beijing elite He added the system had the unanimous endorsement of residents along with widespread approval by the international community and that Hong Kong s true democracy began when it returned to China But over the years Hong Kong has seen huge protests and many including Western countries have criticised Beijing s growing interference in the city In 2020 China introduced a controversial national security law that has clamped down on free speech and dissent in Hong Kong This prompted Britain to accuse China of violating the one country two systems principle and their agreement China s recent electoral reforms designed to ensure only patriots can run for office in Hong Kong have also been heavily criticised But Mr Xi strongly defended this move on Friday saying that it was essential for safeguarding the long-term stability and security of Hong Kong and that at no time should this principle be allowed to be compromised No people in any country or region in the world would ever allow political power to fall into the hands of forces or individuals who do not love or would even sell out or betray their own country he said On Friday the last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten said Mr Xi s claim that democracy began at handover was completely absurd I don t think Xi Jinping would know a democratic election if it hit him over the head with a police truncheon he told the Channel adding that the national security law put Hong Kong into handcuffs UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Friday We re not giving up on Hong Kong Twenty-five years ago we made a promise to the territory and its people and we intend to keep it doing all we can to hold China to its commitments so that Hong Kong is once again run by the people of Hong Kong for the people of Hong Kong US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said Chinese authorities had broken their promises to Hongkongers and called for promised freedoms to be reinstated


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