Thousands Protest For Democracy As Beijing Issues Strong Warning To Hong Kong

They are followed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, his wife Liang Tangqing, and Chief Executi

Late this week, the authorities were busy scrubbing away graffiti that painted what happened 20 year ago as the start of a new kind of colonial period - not a moment of liberation, as the Chinese government prefers to spin it. After 156 years being a colony, the city returned under the sovereignty of the Mother Country.

Each morning, a white-shirted army of bankers fills the crosswalks of Hong Kong, stopping and starting in unison to the ubiquitous chirping of the city's crosswalk signals, a sound eerily reminiscent of a Las Vegas slot machine room.

But Hong Kong is a very divided city.

Those same protesters have accused President Xi of deliberately "humiliating" Britain by tearing up the agreement they signed on Hong Kong rights.

"On the part of the central government, we are ready to talk to anyone who loves the country, loves Hong Kong and genuinely supports the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, no matter what political views or position he or she may hold". Protesters fear Beijing's ruling Communist Party is increasing its control over the financial center's affairs.

"I believe that under the leadership of Madam Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor, Hong Kong people will strive to maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, take full advantage of the unprecedented development opportunities of the country, and working together with the people of the mainland, jointly write a new chapter in Hong Kong's history", Luo said. "His message is clear: if you do not do what we want, watch the consequences".

From 1997 to 2016, Hong Kong's GDP increased from $175.5 billion to $319 billion, according to Luo.

"In addition to (Hong Kong) just bringing foreign investors to China, there's also the Chinese markets and Chinese investment going out (like) the "One Belt, One Road" initiative ..." These positions raise blisters in Beijing, which fears that the rise of this current serves as a spur and mirror for separatist movements such as Tibet, Xinjiang or Taiwan. Our culture, our language and our way of life are in danger. Hon was born and grew up in Hong Kong, but at the office, he's finding more and more of his colleagues hail from mainland China. Earlier in the day, loyalists had also targeted a small peaceful march by activists in memory of the victims of Beijing's 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Mr Xi's three-day visit aimed at stirring Chinese patriotism prompted a massive police presence. Some activists in the area scuffled with pro-China protesters before dispersing. "He will not understand what Hong Kong people think, forever".

Leaders including high-profile campaigner Joshua Wong were detained and bundled into police vans as their supporters shouted "shame". The pro-democracy movement lost considerable momentum after Beijing turned a cold shoulder to the 2014 protests.

The two and 24 other activists staged a protest against Xi's visit to the Bauhinia Monument, the golden statue that was once given by the central government to Hong Kong to commemorate his return.

The plight of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Chinese dissident recently granted parole for cancer treatment, was also a rallying cry. They have been released and are expected to address a large protest gathering in the afternoon.

Some residents uneasy about the changes that have taken place since the July 1, 1997, handover worry about further changes to come during the formal transition period lasting until 2047. Those who scrawled the slogans are disappearing into detention-even as some of this week's statue occupiers reappear on the streets and hope to take part in new protests.

Some lawyers said China's disregard for the bilateral treaty was worrying.

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