Beijing's influence over Hong Kong prompts locals to pack up and leave

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In the midst of celebrations marking 20 years since Britain returned Hong Kong to China, Beijing declared that the document which initiated the handover "is no longer relevant".

"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.

Chinese authorities are suspected of taking them away from Hong Kong, even though they are not allowed to exercise police power there.

"The road ahead is by no means smooth, but our faith in implementing "one country, two systems" will not change, our determination won't be swayed", he said, referring to system that affords Hong Kong a degree of separation from the mainland.

"I am convinced that the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong will write a new chapter", he said. Protesters fear Beijing's ruling Communist Party is increasing its control over the city's political and civil affairs, undermining a pledge to permit it retain its own legal and other institutions for 50 years.

Every day, a ritual raising and lowering of the PRC flag takes place nearby, and the statue is slated to figure in Saturday's special ceremonies over which Chinese President Xi Jinping will officiate.

China's main representative office in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office, didn't respond to a faxed request for comment.

Rows of punch bags were mounted with the head of Hong Kong's unpopular ex-leader Leung Chun-ying, who was replaced by incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Saturday.

In the semi autonomous province of Hong Kong, Mr Xi, dressed in army greens, inspected 3,000 People's Liberation Army troops.

"Merely focusing on economic development will eventually turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city that lacks the characteristics of two systems", Wu said.

Hong Kong has become restless in recent years, with frequent calls for the protection of democratic freedoms and, in some cases, independence, concepts to which Beijing is firmly opposed.

But what could lead to more conflict in Hong Kong in the days to come is Beijing's implacable attitude towards the more radical pro-democracy advocates, particularly those calling for independence.

While the Hong Kong Chinese also helped transform food culture in Vancouver, Yu said their arrival also bred resentment from others, including Chinese immigrants who preceded them. Over two dozens democracy activists were detained by police after they staged a sit-in to protest against Xi's visit.

In the face of China's growing influence, young people here are increasingly likely to identify as Hong Kongers.

Charles Li Xiaojia, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, which operates the city's bourse, has observed the city's evolution from the mainland's fundraising center into the nation's global wealth-management hub, top offshore risk management center and global asset pricing pivot.

Lam said she recognized the political and economic challenges facing Hong Kong but added that the city's problems can not be solved overnight.

"We are seeing the power of the police getting bigger, while the rights of the people are only getting smaller", legislator and activist Nathan Law told AFP.

Former Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a newly appointed member of Lam's Executive Council, said Xi gave a single message throughout his speech - the importance of respecting national sovereignty.