Dec 26, 7:09 AM EST

Chinese leaders reiterate support for HK leader

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BEIJING (AP) -- China's leaders underscored their support for Hong Kong's unpopular leader as he visited Beijing on Friday in the wake of pro-democracy protests in the southern Chinese city.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang less than two weeks after police cleared a final protest camp and ended demonstrations that had blocked traffic for 2 1/2 months.

However, police arrested 49 people during the previous two nights as some protesters returned to the streets demanding open nominations for the semi-autonomous city's top official.

On Friday, Xi told Leung that the central government was satisfied with his work over the past year promoting political reform, economic development, improving people's livelihoods and maintaining "the governance of law to ensure the overall stability of Hong Kong."

Xi added that he hoped that people from all walks of life in Hong Kong would "achieve a common understanding" and preserve social stability, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.

The student-led protesters rejected Beijing's plan to screen all candidates in the first elections for Hong Kong's leader scheduled for 2017, and demanded Leung step down. He refused their demands.

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