Chinese President Hu Jintao has arrived in Hong Kong to mark the 15th anniversary of the territory's handover from Britain to Beijing.
Hu, whose three-day visit is his last as president before a key leadership reshuffle in Beijing later this year, is also expected to attend the inauguration of Leung Chun-ying as the city's next chief executive.
The Chinese leader on Friday was greeted at Hong Kong's airport by dignitaries led by Donald Tsang, the outgoing chief executive, as well as flag-waving schoolchildren.
Hu said Hong Kong had achieved "significant" development since the handover on July 1, 1997, and that the "one country, two systems" model which guarantees the southern Chinese city a semi-autonomous status has been upheld.
'Walk and feel'
"In the coming two days, I hope to be able to walk more, see more and personally feel the development of Hong Kong, understand the life and expectations of the Hong Kong people," Hu said.
Under the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong retains its own judicial and financial frameworks, with civil liberties including the right to demonstrate not seen on the mainland.
But activists have complained over tight security measures put in place for Hu's visit, and tens of thousands of protesters are preparing to march on Sunday for greater democracy, accusing Beijing of interfering in local affairs.
Hu's three-day schedule in Hong Kong has not been made known apart from his expected attendance at Sunday's inauguration ceremony and a variety show to celebrate the 15 years of Chinese rule on Saturday.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|