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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Loyalty Pledge to Beijing Draws Hong Kong Rebuke

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten clashed with China on Wednesday by urging people not to consider democracy dead, despite Beijing's moves to curb it and to obtain a loyalty pledge from top Hong Kong civil servants.

On Tuesday, a senior Chinese official said Hong Kong civil servants must pledge loyalty to Beijing when China takes over the territory in mid-1997. But Patten said Beijing had not made the point to Hong Kong through official channels.

"Government isn't something you can turn on or turn off like an electric kettle," he told reporters. "If you do things to government before 1997 which damage it or attempt to damage its authority, that has consequences after 1997."

The row came only days after Beijing launched formal steps to dissolve Hong Kong's elected legislature, Legco, and put an appointed body in its place in 1997, and to bar pro-democracy politicians from new institutions planned by China. Beijing is also demanding control of Hong Kong's budget.

"I don't think people should throw in the towel," Patten said about the latest developments.

Was democracy snuffed out? Absolutely not, Patten said.

"It isn't something that can be locked up in a cupboard for all time," Patten said, urging China to rethink its moves.

Capitalist Hong Kong will become a Special Administrative Region of China when British colonial rule ends in 1997.

On Tuesday, the deputy director of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office in Beijing, Chen Ziying, said Hong Kong civil servants must be loyal to the motherland and to the new provisional legislature China plans to appoint to serve the post-handover government.