Chinese President Xi Jinping stood bolt upright and impassive on Friday as he inspected more than 3,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Hong Kong, the largest military parade in the city since its handover to China in 1997.
Xi, who oversees the PLA in his role as head of the powerful Central Military Commission, repeatedly shouted, “Hello comrades!” and “Comrades, you are working hard!” into four microphones fixed atop his motorcade as martial music blared in the background.
The troops, divided into squadrons of 20, responded in unison: “Hail to you chief!” and “Serve the people!”
Xi’s visit to the Shek Kong barracks in a quiet and lush corner of Hong Kong’s New Territories came on the second day of his first trip as president to the financial hub, where he is marking the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.
He will oversee the swearing-in of Hong Kong’s new leader, Carrie Lam, on Saturday.
Xi and invitation-only guests were treated to troops parading in immaculate uniforms and a military display that included Z8 helicopters, mobile air defense missile trucks, armored cars and light tanks.
His visit comes amid heightened tensions between China and Hong Kong, where many people are concerned at what they perceive to be increasing interference by Beijing in the city’s affairs.