China's Xi affirms Hong Kong chief amid political challenges

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2016 1:18 AM
China's Xi affirms Hong Kong chief amid political challenges

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Hong Kong's leader said Chinese President Xi Jinping has affirmed his handling of a political dispute in the Chinese-ruled territory in which two recently elected legislators were barred from taking their seats.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Xi had given his endorsement in a meeting Sunday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru.

Leung said Xi referred to the decision to bar the two elected members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council for using anti-China insults and foul language while taking their oaths of office last month.

Xi has "fully affirmed our work, including a series of problems arising from our recent handling of the Legislative Council oath. We are fully affirmed in our work," Leung told reporters.

Referring to scattered calls for the former British colony's independence from China, Leung said Xi had said "very forcefully" that there was no room for such an arrangement under the "one country, two systems" template that saw Hong Kong return to Chinese rule while maintaining its own political, legal and financial institutions.

While few have embraced the calls for Hong Kong independence, Beijing routinely lashes out at any position seen as challenging the ruling Communist Party's absolute authority.

Xi has not publicly commented on the controversy and the official Xinhua News Agency quoted him only as telling Leung that Beijing "fully acknowledges" the work of his government, while urging him to "resolutely safeguard national unity and maintain social and political stability."

In an unprecedented move, Beijing responded to the controversy over the oaths by handing down its own interpretation of the semi-autonomous region's mini-constitution to disqualify the two legislators. That circumvented Hong Kong's courts and raised fears over the city's wide autonomy and independent judiciary.