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China's Xi says Hong Kong 'cannot afford chaos' after 2019 protests

President vows 'one country, two systems,' but critics claim freedom already eroded

China's President Xi Jinping speaks after a ceremony inaugurating a new government in Hong Kong on July 1, the 25th anniversary of the city's return to China.   © AP

HONG KONG -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that Hong Kong cannot fall back into "chaos" after mass street protests in 2019, but insisted that Beijing would back the city's semi-autonomous "one country, two systems" governance style.

Xi made the comments at a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule under an agreement that promised a high level of autonomy and civil liberties for at least 50 years after the handover on July 1, 1997.

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