It was a classic scene from the Chinese Communist Party’s repertoire: A high-ranking official descended on the home of a poor, patriotic worker, bearing gifts and wishes for a happy National Day, receiving declarations of gratitude and loyalty in return.

But the visit this month did not take place in a hardscrabble village in mainland China, where officials often make such scripted trips to show their bond with the masses. It played out in Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory where such overt displays by the Communist Party apparatus were once rare.

The much-publicized meeting carried a clear message, made all the more potent since China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong this summer. The days of the central government exercising its will behind the scenes are over. Now it will rule Hong Kong increasingly in the open.