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China’s outrage over HK violence may prompt tighter embrace

July 03, 2019 00:00:00

Protesters breaking into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China in Hong Kong, China on Monday — Reuters

BEIJING, July 02 (Reuters): China deplored violence in Hong Kong on Tuesday that saw protesters ransack the city's legislature, fuelling expectations it will take a tougher line on the territory, even as details of the scenes of vandalism went largely unreported on the mainland.

Massive protests in the former British colony that began early last month came to a head overnight on Monday, prompting predictions that the police would take a harder stance, the city would be forced into a tighter embrace with the mainland and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam would be forced out.

Beijing called the violence an "undisguised challenge" to the "one country, two systems" model under which Hong Kong was granted a high degree of autonomy when it was returned to China in 1997.

"We express outrage about this and strongly condemn it," China's foreign ministry office in Hong Kong said in a statement.

Millions of people have taken to Hong Kong's streets in recent weeks to protest against a now-suspended extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

The backlash comes amid growing resentment over what many in Hong Kong see as declining freedoms as China tightens its grip over the territory under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who warned two years ago that Beijing would not tolerate any challenge to its authority in Hong Kong.

The official China Daily newspaper, published in English and often used by Beijing to get its message out to the rest of the world, said that the best way to deal with Hong Kong was yet further economic integration with the mainland.

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