A Hong Kong pro-democracy heckler has interrupted a speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the swearing-in of a new chief executive for the territory, Leung Chun-ying.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents also marched to protest Chinese rule on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the handover of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) from British to Chinese rule, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government had vowed to remain committed to the "one country, two systems" principle, involving "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong," Chinese state media reported.
Xinhua quoted Leung, 57, as saying: "I will honor the pledges I have made — to uphold justice, protect the rights of the people, safeguard the rule of law, clean government, freedom and democracy which are among the core values of Hong Kong, and take an inclusive approach towards different opinions and views.
"I will do my utmost to safeguard human rights and make sure that press freedom and the independence of the media are respected."
Hu, undertaking his third visit to Hong Kong — a city of 7 million that was returned to China in 1997 after more than a century of British colonial rule — said that Hong Kong had achieved remarkable progress over the past 15 years, despite a crippling regional financial crisis, deadly epidemics and a global financial crisis, according to IANS.
He said Hong Kong residents now had more democratic rights and freedoms than ever.
However, the Guardian quoted him as saying: "While we recognize Hong Kong's achievements 15 years after the handover, we must also be conscious of the deep disagreements and problems in Hong Kong society."
The protester who tried to interrupt his speech — according to the AP, an invited guest to the inauguration — waved a small flag while demanding that China's leaders condemn the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. He also called for an end to one-party rule in China before being bundled away by security officials.
The protesters, meantime, are demanding more representative government, claiming that Leung, a self-made millionaire, was chosen by a hand-picked committee aligned with Communist-ruled Beijing.
And there was widespread outrage over reports of the high-flying lifestyle of outgoing leader Donald Tsang, including private jets, lavish hotels and a luxury property offer.
They are also angry over perceived economic inequality and what they see as arrogant Chinese behavior by wealthy mainland Chinese who they say have inflated property prices in Hong Kong and embark on flashy shopping sprees.
Leung, a police officer's son and self-made millionaire, according to the AP, is Hong Kong's third chief executive after Tsang and Tung Chee-hwa.
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