President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong to mark the city’s 25th anniversary of Chinese rule, in his first trip to the former British colony since overseeing a sweeping crackdown on its pro-democracy opposition.

The Chinese president will also attend the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday, without providing further details on the visit.

The trip will be Xi’s first outside mainland China since January 2020, after his "COVID zero" policy closed the country’s borders and limited him to virtual attendance of international events. Xi’s decision to visit Hong Kong even as it records more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases signals his determination to stamp Beijing’s mark of control of the former British colony.