Chinese President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong had been reborn after facing one "challenge” after another since he last visited five years ago, as he returned to the city to mark its 25th anniversary of Chinese rule.

The Chinese leader said the city’s "One Country, Two Systems” governance formula would ensure its prosperity and stability, as the finance hub contributed to China’s "great reunification,” in a short speech delivered at West Kowloon Station on Thursday afternoon.

Xi arrived with his wife, Peng Liyuan, to crowds of schoolchildren waving flags and a traditional lion dance, after taking the city’s high-speed rail link from mainland China. Outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam was at the reception, along with her successor John Lee, former city leader Leung Chun-ying and Zheng Yanxiong, head of the secretive agency China created to implement its controversial security law.