Hong Kong leader says new United States law, violence will harm economy

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said that United States legislation supporting protesters might damage business confidence in the territory, and announced a fourth round of relief measures to boost an economy battered by months of demonstrations.

A so-called "phase one" deal between the world's two largest economies had originally been expected by the end of November.

Hong Kong protesters carrying American flags and banners appealing to US President Donald Trump rallied in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"We need to make our economy recover as quickly as possible", she said, citing the trade war between Beijing and Washington and the past six months of social unrest at home.

The Beijing-backed chief executive also denied that Hong Kong is losing its freedom and criticized the legislation as being based on such assumptions.

So far, only one has been met - the formal removal of a extradition bill that would have allowed people within Hong Kong to be arrested and tried in mainland Chinese courts.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong.

For mainlanders in Hong Kong, the city's protests pose a complicated challenge, with even some who backed the demonstrations now wary of a movement that has become vocally and sometimes even violently anti-China.

Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin also tweeted separately today that China could ban all U.S. diplomatic passport holders from visiting Xinjiang and may also impose visa restrictions against United States lawmakers and officials with "odious performance" on Xinjiang.

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Analysts say the move could complicate negotiations between China and the U.S. to end their trade war.

China claims sovereignty over 90 percent of the South China Sea, despite the fact that a United Nations legal judgment in 2016 refuted Beijing's claims.

More than 1 million mainland Chinese have moved to Hong Kong since British rule ended in 1997, but there are no public figures on the numbers now in the city.

"The measures announced on Monday are only the lightest", it said. "These organizations deserve to be sanctioned and they must pay the price for it".

China's Foreign Ministry condemned the new law, calling it nothing more than a show of public support for "violent criminals".

Why are there protests in Hong Kong?

Many NGOs, particularly those protecting human rights, have been forced to stop working in China due to pressure from the government.

The airline says that passengers holding confirmed bookings on flights to/from Vancouver after February 10 can get a full refund, free change of travel date, free change to any destination operated by Hong Kong Airlines (fare and taxes difference may apply) or free transfer to other partner carriers to be arranged by Hong Kong Airlines, subject to seat availability.

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