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Hong Kong Tense Ahead of Electoral Reform Decision


A security guard walks past a tent set up by pro-democracy protesters outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, China, June 16, 2015.

A security guard walks past a tent set up by pro-democracy protesters outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, China, June 16, 2015.

Hong Kong's top leader is warning against unrest as concerns mount in the Chinese-ruled territory before a controversial decision on electoral reform.

"We do not tolerate any kind or any form of illegal activities whether it's violent or non-violent," warned Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his weekly televised briefing Tuesday.

Hong Kong police this week seized a stash of chemicals and arrested 10 people on "suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture explosives." No charges have been filed and officials have said little about the alleged bomb plot.

Hong Kong lawmakers are to vote this week on a China-backed plan to allow Hong Kongers to vote for their top leader, but candidates would need to be approved by a committee dominated by Beijing loyalists.

Many opposition members call the plan "fake democracy" and have vowed to vote against it, meaning it may not receive the required two-thirds majority.

If the bill does not pass, Hong Kong's chief executive will continue to be chosen as it currently is: by a 1,200-member election committee.

The electoral reform plan was the catalyst for last year's mass protests, which brought tens of thousands of Hong Kongers onto the street, providing an unprecedented challenge for Beijing.

Activists say the protests will continue each day this week and have rejected what they see as official attempts to smear a pro-democracy movement that has been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Stocks tumbled in Hong Kong on Tuesday as concerns rose over possible unrest. The benchmark Hang Seng index ended down 1.1 percent — its lowest closing level since early April.

Hong Kong's legislature is due to begin debating the electoral reform bill on Wednesday. A vote is expected by the end of the week.

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