China backs decision to exclude Hong Kong candidate Wong

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BEIJING (AP) — China has strongly backed Hong Kong's move to exclude pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong from elections for local councilors, a decision seen as likely to fuel further public anger in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The statement from the Cabinet's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Wednesday came as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned of the economic damage caused by months of anti-government protests, but said the government would not address underlying social and economic concerns until violence stopped.

Hong Kong's economy has hit the buffers amid the ongoing violence, with the government saying visitor numbers have fallen by half and retail sales are off by 25 percent in recent months against the same period last year.

Wong, 23, has been repeatedly arrested for his activism.

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