Xi Jinping, China’s leader, visists Hong Kong yesterday to celebrate 25 years since the end of British rule there.

“Hong Kong has withstood one severe challenge after another, and overcome one hazard after another,” Xi said in a brief speech upon his arrival. “After the storm, Hong Kong has been reborn from the ashes, showing flourishing vitality.”

It was his first trip out of mainland China since the pandemic started. Covid infections recently rose in Hong Kong, and the city sent thousands of people — officials, diplomats, journalists and workers — to hotels for days of quarantine and daily Covid tests before his visit. It was also Xi’s first trip to Hong Kong in five years — and his first since Beijing imposed a crackdown on a 2019 pro-democracy movement that mounted a serious challenge to its rule. Xi’s policies have stifled dissent in the city, and his visit underscores the importance of signaling his control over the former British colony