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Jan 18, 12:12 AM EST

In final speech, Hong Kong leader warns on independence push

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HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's outgoing leader warned in his farewell policy speech Wednesday that independence for the Chinese-controlled territory is not possible.

In his annual address to the legislature, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that Hong Kong is an "inalienable" part of China.

"There is absolutely no room for independence or any form of separation," he said.

The latter part of Leung's five-year term has been marked by growing separatist sentiment following massive 2014 pro-democracy protests that failed to sway the government's position on restricting electoral reform.

He said that under the "one country, two systems" framework that allows Hong Kong to have considerable autonomy and retain civil liberties not seen on mainland China, residents must comply with the city's Basic Law constitution "and safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity."

Last year, Leung's government took a tough stance against two newly elected lawmakers, taking legal action to disqualify them from office after they used their swearing-in ceremonies to mount apparent protests against China and express pro-independence views.

The unpopular Leung said last month he won't seek a second term in office after his current term ends in June, citing family reasons.

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