Believe in the motherland, China’s leader tells Hong Kong people — and respect its might – Washington Post

China staged the territory’s largest military parade ever Friday for the benefit of visiting President Xi Jinping, and as a none-too-subtle reminder to its residents of who’s their boss.

China is marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British rule with three days of official celebrations. But many people here are not inclined to join in the fun, believing a promise to grant the territory greater democracy has been broken, and that the values that Hong Kongers hold dear have been steadily eroded in recent years. 

In 2014, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets for several weeks to demand greater democracy in what became known as the Umbrella Revolution. When those demands were rejected out of hand, some young people began to say the unsayable, and argue that Hong Kong would be better off independent of China.

But Friday’s military parade, and a subsequent speech by Xi, served to underline China’s main argument — that the people of Hong Kong really have no choice but to accept the reality of life as part of a powerful nation under Communist Party rule.

“Greetings comrades,” a stony-faced Xi said as he was driven in an open-top jeep past more than 3,000 People’s Liberation Army troops who are garrisoned here, massed in 20 divisions. “Comrades, you have worked hard.”

“Greetings, Chairman,” the troops bellowed back over and over, saluting Xi in his role as chairman of the country’s military commission — their supreme commander. “Serve the people!”

Behind the troops, the red flags of China flew in the breeze, while tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers and air-defense missiles stood in massed array. 

On Chinese state television, anchors and experts gushed over the impressive display of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and a garrison that has traditionally kept a lower public profile.

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