Hu vows to 'walk more and see more'
President Hu Jintao began a three-day visit in Hong Kong to mark the 15th anniversary of the city's handover to China by promising to 'walk more and see more' to get a feel for Hongkongers' expectations.
However, he may not be able to fulfil his pledge, as protesters and the public were kept away from the top leader yesterday amid tight security arrangements by police.
Arriving on a chartered flight at noon, Hu delivered a two-minute speech at Chek Lap Kok airport, saying he was glad to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the handover with Hongkongers and to witness the inauguration of the fourth-term government under incoming leader Leung Chun-ying.
'The central government would be willing to work [with] and remain united with Hongkongers from all walks of life to conclude the experience gained in rolling forward the implementation of 'one country, two systems',' Hu said.
'In the coming two days, I hope to walk more, see more and personally feel the development of Hong Kong, and to understand the life and expectations of Hong Kong people,' he said.
But Hongkongers were more focused on Hu's parade in an open-topped army vehicle as he inspected 3,000 troops assembled at the People's Liberation Army's Hong Kong garrison in Shek Kong.
Hu was driven for a kilometre along the airfield runway past rows of missiles, helicopters, armoured cars and infantry vehicles fronted by the men and women of the PLA forces stationed in the city.
Tanks and mobile rocket launchers were also on display in Hong Kong for the first time.
In 2007, Hu inspected 1,900 troops on foot at Stonecutters barracks.
Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was usual protocol for Hu, as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, to inspect PLA troops in a vehicle at a large-scale military parade. Lau said the parade was unlikely to be a demonstration of military might to Hongkongers amid their dissatisfaction with the government, but to guard against attempts by foreigners to intervene in the city's internal affairs.
Pan-democratic lawmakers plan to present a petition to Hu today when he attends a dinner with invited guests, and several pan-democratic groups will stage rallies.
When Hu's motorcade left the airport, several people tried to hang black banners over a bridge in Tung Chung, demanding an investigation into the suspicious death of June 4 activist Li Wangyang , but police stopped them.
Police also stopped lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, when he chanted slogans through a loudspeaker as Hu arrived at his hotel in Wan Chai.
In an afternoon meeting with outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, Hu praised his leadership for its 'remarkable achievements' in countering the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis, mapping out economic development, improving people's livelihoods and making progress in the city's democratisation.
'Under strong support from the central government, Tsang ... kept forging head in achieving a large amount of effective work,' Hu said.