Several people were detained, after a small group of pro-democracy activists clashed with pro-Beijing demonstrators
Several people were detained, after a small group of pro-democracy activists clashed with pro-Beijing demonstrators

China's President Xi Jinping said yesterday Hong Kong was freer than ever before but warned against "impermissible" challenges to Beijing's authority as the city marked 20 years since it was handed back by Britain.

Xi spoke in a televised address after swearing in new Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. Lam was selected by a pro-China committee and is already being cast by critics as a China stooge in a city where many are angry at Beijing's tightening grip on the freedoms of nearly eight million people.

Xi said that any threats to the authority of China's communist party government "cross the red line and are absolutely impermissible".

Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive Carrie Lam (left) with China’s President Xi Jinping after being sworn in as the territory’s new leader. Pics/AFP
Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Carrie Lam (left) with China's President Xi Jinping after being sworn in as the territory's new leader. Pics/AFP

He added that Hong Kong had "more extensive democratic rights and freedoms than at any other time in its history".

The Sino-British Joint Declaration gave Hong Kong rights unseen on the mainland through a semi-autonomous "one country, two systems" agreement, lasting 50 years.