Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's first female leader, was sworn in amid heavy tensions between pro-democracy and pro-China protesters in the city.

Carrie Lam, who was selected by a pro-China committee is already being cast by critics as a China stooge.
Carrie Lam, who was selected by a pro-China committee is already being cast by critics as a China stooge. (TRT World and Agencies)

Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong's new leader Carrie Lam on Saturday with a stark warning that Beijing will not tolerate any challenge to its authority in the city.

A massive security blanket surrounded Hong Kong early on Saturday as Xi prepared to swear in the city's first female leader on the 20th anniversary of the former British colony's handover to Chinese rule.

Lam was selected by a pro-China committee, as were her predecessors, 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 its nearly eight million people.

"Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government ... or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible," Xi said at the swearing in ceremony.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has more.

Minor scuffles broke out as pro-democracy activists, some with banners bearing the words "Democracy. Self determination", and pro-Beijing groups taunted each other, with hundreds of police deployed on a traditional day of protest in Hong Kong.

Scores of democracy protesters were taken away by police, while several pro-China groups remained, cheering loudly and waving flags as though in victory.

"Long live China," they shouted in unison. "We support the police's law enforcement actions."

Patrick Fok has more from Hong Kong.

Fraught with tensions

Xi's visit comes amid heightened tension between China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists have been protesting against what they say is China's growing encroachment on the city's freedoms in a breach of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that is supposed to grant a high degree of autonomy to Hong Kong.

Beijing's refusal to grant universal suffrage to Hong Kong, however, triggered nearly three months of street protests in 2014 and growing calls for independence for the city, in what many observers see as the most tumultuous post-handover period seen in Hong Kong.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies