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Xi Jinping to visit Hong Kong for 20th anniversary of handover

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of the city's handover to Chinese sovereignty, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

It will be Xi's first visit to the territory as China's top leader.

During his time in the city, Xi will inspect People's Liberation Army troops at their garrison, visit a Chinese-Hong Kong construction project, and swear in Carrie Lam as the next Hong Kong Chief Executive.

He will also attend a major gala celebration to mark 20 years since China assumed control over the city.

Tightened security

Xi's visit is expected to be accompanied by a massive security operation, with parts of the city put into lockdown to ensure protesters cannot get to the Chinese leader.

Hong Kong police have been drilling with their counterparts from Guangdong, across the border in China, for months.

During a visit by Zhang Dejiang, China's third most senior government official, to Hong Kong last year, police glued down sidewalks and erected huge barriers to prevent the public getting anywhere near Zhang.

Protest slogans and images banned

Hong Kong police have also launched a crackdown on political banners and images such as signs referencing the Tiananmen Square massacre or expressing a desire for "genuine universal suffrage" ahead of Xi's visit to avoid "embarrassing" the country's leader, according to local media reports.

A police source confirmed the directive, adding that frontline officers were under immense pressure to ensure Xi's visit went smoothly and the protesters were kept away.

Images of Xi holding a yellow umbrella, a symbol of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, would also be removed by police.

Since the handover in 1997, July 1 is typically marked by large-scale protests, and opposition parties have vowed to come out in force this year. Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist, has called for "demonstration instead of celebration" to mark Xi's visit.

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