World Bulletin / News Desk
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday swore in Hong Kong's new leader who will have to confront challenges ranging from human rights to a push for democracy in the free-wheeling financial centre after a year of transition and protest.
Security was tight at the same harbour-front venue where the British handed Hong Kong back to Communist Party-run China exactly 15 years ago, with hundreds of police forming a solid ring fence to ensure the isolated demonstrations were kept out of sight and earshot.
Hu expressed China's confidence in Hong Kong's role as a free, law-abiding society, though in a sign of Beijing's anxiety at recent tensions, he appealed for unity and called on the administration of Leung Chun-ying, who was sworn in for a five-year term, to heed "deep disagreements and problems" in the territory.
A lone protester stood and heckled Hu as he spoke, demanding an end to one-party rule and dictatorship in China, before being wrestled away by security personnel.
Outside the venue, masses of Hong Kong police and high barricades smothered all attempts by protesters to approach. Several demonstrators were taken away in a police van while a truck draped with black June 4 slogans denouncing Beijing's bloody crackdown on protesters in 1989 was forced away and tailed by a police motorcycle.
"Hong Kong has freedoms, and we have the right to protest! Why do you even stop us from walking?" lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan shouted into a loud hailer as he harangued police blocking him and a handful of protesters.
Hong Kong is a liberal, global financial hub agitating for full democracy, making it both an asset and a potentially dangerous precedent for China where people are becoming increasingly intolerant of rights abuses and curtailed freedoms.
A far larger demonstration drawing tens of thousands was expected to hit the streets after the ceremony over a variety of issues including perceived China meddling in Hong Kong's affairs and slowing the city's moves towards full democracy.
Other issues angering the public include an illegal construction scandal that has badly hit Leung's integrity and popularity ratings, a yawning wealth gap, corruption and pollution - though Sunday's ceremony was held under a sunny blue sky.
During a visit to a cruise terminal construction site built on Hong Kong's old Kai Tak airport runway, Hu, in a hard-hat, was asked by a reporter to explain the June 4 killings.
"I hoped to ask him questions that Hong Kong people really want to ask," said Rex Hon, the reporter, who was interrogated by Hong Kong police officers for 15 minutes after his unscripted outburst. Hu ignored the question.
Mainland authorities also censored parts of CNN's broadcasts in China on the protests during Hu's visit that demanded a probe into the suspicious death in custody of dissident Li Wangyang, whose relatives accused officials in Hunan of murder.
Leung, 57, a Beijing-backed surveyor and son of a policeman, succeeds the bow-tie wearing Donald Tsang as chief executive but his popularity has been hit by the housing scandal and the closeness of his ties to Beijing.
Unlike Hong Kong's first post-1997 leader, Tung Chee-hwa, a shipping tycoon, and Tsang, a lifelong civil servant, Leung is a self-made millionaire who has championed grassroots causes such as poverty alleviation and building more public housing.
Leung, dressed in dark suit and red tie, said the road to his political ascendancy had been "humbling" and he welcomed scrutiny by the media and public during his term.
"I, and my governing team, will move closer towards the people, to narrow the gap between government and the public. We will closely listen to people's suggestions and opinions."
The opposition democrats, however, view Leung -- dubbed "the wolf" for his abrasive style -- with distrust and remain sceptical that he will act in Hong Kong's best interests, particularly in moving the city towards full democracy.
Kindergarten has turned into orphanage after becoming home to tens of children who lost one or both parents in Syria's civil war
Some 10,000 Somali refugees living in eastern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp are expected to be repatriated within six months
Human rights groups send open letter to president over prosecution of father accusing soldiers of shooting 14-year-old
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said reports that Saudi Arabia had called certain Hamas officials to voice its displeasure with the visit were unfounded
Parliament urged the government to expedite the process of tabling electoral reforms as lack of quorum derails debates.
28,000 soldiers will be used to secure polling stations while another 8,000 will be deployed for emergency reaction.
Twin bombs in Yemen's western city of Al-Hudaydah resulted in the death of an unconfirmed amount of people and scores were of people were injured.
Conviction against Huugjilt, 18, overturned almost 2 decades after execution for crime which serial rapist confessed to in 2005.
The Egyptian army said Thursday that it had killed nine "terrorists" and arrested 12 others within the past two days in the northeastern Sinai Peninsula.
Some Jewish organizations had called on settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa compound, especially on Sunday and Monday, according to the Palestinian NGO.
The United Nations launched its biggest ever humanitarian appeal for Syria on Thursday, seeking $8.4 billion after only securing about half the funding it asked for in 2014.
The union said that cabinet ministers in the Palestinian unity government had promised the cleaners that it would work on resolving their grievances within the next two weeks
Bosnia lifts visa requirements for citizens of 10 countries, bringing total number to 72.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to radically change his attitude to the rest of the world and be more cooperative.
European Union has 'shot itself in the foot' by isolating Palestinian group, says analyst.
Cheyney's fiscal problems - students who are unable to repay debt and increasing pension costs - were exacerbated by cutbacks in state higher education funding.