Xi vows to uphold ‘one country, two systems’
Meanwhile, protesters plot to disrupt China's anniversary celebrations
BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed yesterday to uphold the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong, after months of pro-democracy protests in the city.
Speaking at a reception in Beijing the night before the celebration to mark the country's 70th anniversary, Mr Xi said the country would "continue to fully and faithfully implement the principles of 'one country, two systems'" and a "high degree of autonomy".
Hong Kong has been plagued by months of unrest over what protesters say are eroding freedoms in the financial hub.
"We are confident that with the full backing of the motherland and the concerted efforts of our fellow Chinese in Hong Kong and Macau who love the motherland...
"(Hong Kong) will prosper and progress alongside the mainland," Mr Xi said.
China is preparing for a grand celebration today, including a huge military parade and anniversary gala.
Protesters in Hong Kong are hoping to upstage the event with another demonstration following a weekend of intense clashes with police.
Beijing has been positioning the event as a triumphant celebration of its economic growth over the last seven decades, as well as emphasising the importance of a unified territory.
"Unity is iron and steel. Unity is a source of strength," Mr Xi said in his speech.
He also referred to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing still sees as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
"The complete reunification of the motherland is an inevitable trend... no one and no force can ever stop it," he said.
In Hong Kong yesterday, police warned that pro-democracy protests to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding will be "very, very dangerous".
"After our analysis, we are expecting the situation tomorrow to be very, very dangerous," said Superintendent John Tse.
"Core rioters are increasing their violence.
"The depth and breadth of their violence and plans show that they are increasingly resorting to terrorism," he added.
"We have intelligence suggesting that some hardcore violent protesters are inciting others, including those with suicidal tendencies, to commit extreme acts, such as murdering the police, disguising as police officers to kill others and setting fires in petrol stations.
"All acts are one step closer to terrorism."
With legal rallies banned, online forums used by the largely leaderless movement have instead called for protests across the city in an effort to stretch police resources.
"I want to see millions of people boycott national events and result into violent protests on Oct 1," one user wrote in a forum. - AFP