HONG KONG – Chinese President Hu Jintao was interrupted by a pro-democracy heckler today at the swearing in of Hong Kong’s new leader, an incident underscoring rising tensions between Beijing and the semiautonomous territory 15 years after it returned to Chinese rule.
Tens of thousands of people were expected to take to the streets later in the day in an annual protest that is an occasion for ordinary people to air their grievances over a range of issues. There is rising public discontent over widening inequality and lack of full democracy in the southern Chinese financial center.
Self-made millionaire Leung Chun-ying became Hong Kong’s third chief executive on the 15th anniversary of China regaining control of the city after more than a century of British colonial control. There were sporadic scuffles between demonstrators and police outside the convention center where his inauguration took place.
A demonstrator who tried to interrupt Hu as he began his address was bundled away by security officials. The man, one of the guests invited to the inauguration, waved a small flag and yelled slogans calling for China’s leaders to condemn the brutal June 4, 1989, crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. He also called for an end to one-party rule in China before security agents swiftly pounced.