HONG KONG — A top Chinese official said Hong Kong can have "peace of mind" that its autonomy will be preserved, but hit out at independence activists during a highly charged visit that sparked protests on Wednesday.The three-day trip by Zhang Dejiang, who chairs China’s communist-controlled legislature, is the first by such a senior official for four years. It comes amid growing concerns that freedoms are under threat in semi-autonomous Hong Kong as China tightens its grip.Zhang’s visit was ostensibly for an economic conference on Wednesday, but has been widely seen as a conciliatory effort as frustration over lack of political reform has sparked a fledgling independence movement, condemned by authorities in Hong Kong and mainland China.At a banquet for legislators, boycotted by pro-democracy legislators, Zhang said Hong Kong would not be "mainlandised"."Those saying the central government wants to mainlandise Hong Kong or even turn ‘one country, two systems’ into ‘one country, one ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.