On Wednesday, June 28, pro-democracy protesters gathered near the "Forever Blooming Golden Bauhinia" statue on the Wanchai waterside ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Hong Kong, scheduled for June 29-July 1. The demonstrators, led by student protester Joshua Wong, were calling for stronger political separation between Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party, as well as denouncing President Xi's visit and demanding the release of Liu Xiabo, a Nobel-prize winning activist being held by Chinese authorities. Around 30 protesters were arrested by police.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in the annual pro-democracy protest on Saturday, July 1.
Local authorities have stated that 9000 police officers will be deployed during President Xi's three-day visit and that political banners, as well as protest slogans and images, would be banned during the visit to avoid "embarrassment."
China confirmed on June 23 that President Xi Jinping would visit the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong from Thursday, June 29, through Saturday, July 1, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China from British rule. The visit is widely expected to be perceived as provocative to Hong Kong's pro-democracy and pro-independence activists. Protesters previously announced that they will gather during the associated celebrations.
Xi will visit China's People's Liberation Army garrison in central Hong Kong and will inaugurate the territory's newly-elected leader, Carrie Lam, on July 1.
On July 1, 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China under a deal that gives Hong Kong relative autonomy for 50 years.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to keep abreast of the situation, to anticipate transportation disruptions in the coming days, and to avoid the vicinity of demonstrations as a precaution due to the potential for violence.