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Hong Kong protests

China signals electoral reform to ensure 'patriots' run Hong Kong

Key official wants Beijing-led overhaul, which could come at congress in March

Hong Kong riot police disperse protesters in September. China has suppressed the pro-democracy movement in the city, including through a national security law enacted last year.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- China must reform Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure that the city is led by true "patriots," the country's Hong Kong affairs chief said Monday, fueling speculation that Beijing will propose sweeping changes as early as next month.

"Patriots governing Hong Kong" represents the essence of the "one country, two systems" framework for the city, said Xia Baolong, head of China's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. Xia, speaking at a seminar, invoked a phrase about patriotism once used by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

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