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China attacks Pelosi for meeting Hong Kong activists

BEIJING (AP) — China's foreign ministry on Thursday accused U.S. congressional leader Nancy Pelosi of making irresponsible remarks about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, one day after she welcomed activists from the city to the U.S. Capitol.

Spokesman Geng Shuang said Pelosi and other American lawmakers had confused right and wrong by engaging with what he termed Hong Kong separatists. "We urge the U.S. to stop bolstering radical violent forces in Hong Kong that advocate Hong Kong independence, and stop intensifying words and actions that undermine the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," he said at a daily briefing.

In Hong Kong, the government announced that city leader Carrie Lam and other officials will hold their first community dialogue next week with up to 150 members of the public. The goal is "to invite people from all walks of life to express their views to the government, so as to fathom the discontent in society and to look for solutions," it said in a statement.

Lam had announced earlier that the government would create a platform for dialogue in a bid to end the protests demanding democracy that have riven Hong Kong all summer with no resolution in sight. Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, was joined by Republican lawmakers at a news conference Wednesday with democracy activists including Joshua Wong and pop singer Denise Ho.

She sided with their demand for fully democratic elections and thanked them for "challenging the conscience" of the Chinese government and the world. Pelosi has monitored China from her early years in Congress, when she appeared with other lawmakers in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to pay tribute to protesters who died in 1989 pro-democracy protests.

This year's protesters believe that China is eroding the rights and freedoms that Hong Kong has under a "one country, two systems" framework that allows the semi-autonomous city to have its own legal system.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to advance legislation that would require an annual review of Hong Kong's special economic and trade status, providing a potential check on the Chinese government's influence.

Geng said Hong Kong is an internal Chinese issue, and that China accepts no interference in its internal affairs. "We strongly urge the U.S. to ... respect China's sovereignty, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form and stop promoting the review of relevant Hong Kong-related proposals," he said.

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