The career bureaucrat was selected through a process decried by critics as fundamentally undemocratic, involving just a sliver of a per cent of Hong Kong's three million-plus voters.
However, the statistic does not indicate that localism groups are losing ground, Chan said, but rather that young Hong Kongers have calmed down and realized the low probability of the territory becoming independent.
He also warned against anyone endangering Hong Kong's Constitution or using the city "to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland".
They demanded the release of cancer-stricken Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who remains on medical parole on the mainland, and that China take responsibility for the brutal Tiananmen crackdown against student democracy protesters in Beijing in 1989.
But he said Hong Kong had to do more to shore up security and boost patriotic education, apparently referring to pieces of legislation long delayed by popular opposition. This year's rally coincided with the first visit by the Chinese president and creeping pessimism over Beijing's increasingly hardline stance towards the territory.
Universal suffrage was described as the "ultimate aim". Over two dozens democracy activists were detained by police after they staged a sit-in to protest against Xi's visit. "He only listened to people who surrounded him", said Antony, a 55-year-old businessman.
Lam, speaking in Mandarin instead of the Cantonese dialect widely used in Hong Kong and southern China, said she wanted to create a harmonious society and bring down astronomical housing prices that have also sown social discord. Now, many assert that the opposite is true as Beijing steps up the pressure on the island.
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Participants in the pro-democracy march largely dismissed Lam as a loyal bureaucrat, but said the change in leadership introduced a new measure of uncertainty. "They are scaring people", says Chan, who has several pending cases for his activism.
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, told TIME that such frank statements painted a "worrisome" picture for Hong Kong. "Things are much more tense".
Two of her colleagues were barred from taking office past year due to their pro-independence stance.
Organizers estimated the number of participants at 60,000, about half of last year's figure.
Ng, along with fellow activists Joshua Wong and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, have urged Hong Kong citizens to join the annual July 1 protest at Victoria Park, scheduled to start at 3 p.m. today. Liu's face featured on countless signs held aloft by marchers who called on China to release him to seek treatment overseas.
"He wants to spread China's ideas, but he doesn't understand Hong Kong and has little contact with the people of Hong Kong".
"The central government will continue to support Hong Kong in growing its economy and in leveraging its strengths and role in advancing his pet multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Reminbi internationalisation and other strategies", Xi said.
During the 2013 interview, Li said the mainland was still a plain economy, lacking company or securities laws, and it needed capital and ways to reform the State-owned sector.