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In Hong Kong, new virus rekindles old animosities towards China

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In Hong Kong, new virus rekindles old animosities towards China

The coronavirus has sparked fear in Hong Kong where memories of the 2003 SARS outbreak remain vivid, but it has also reignited long-simmering animosities [Jerome Favre/EPA] Hong Kong, China – Minnie Li has thrown herself into Hong Kong ‘s protest movement for the past few years, even joining a hunger strike last summer. But these days the Shanghai native and university lecturer is greeted with flyers warning that mainland Chinese like her are not welcome – all in the name of shielding local residents from potential coronavirus carriers from the mainland.

"I don’t feel hurt," said Li. "I see this as the ‘cross-infection’ of politics in the current outbreak."

The coronavirus that emerged in central China in late December has ravaged the mainland, killing more than 1,100 people and infecting 45,000 others. Since Hong Kong confirmed its first case on January 22, there have been 49 reported cases and one death in the semi-autonomous territory.

The outbreak in Hong Kong comes right on the heels of seven months of anti-government protests, triggered in June last year by a now-abandoned extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent for trial on the mainland.

The scale of the protests revealed increasing concern that Hong Kong’s freedoms – guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" framework governing the territory’s transition from British to Chinese rule in 1997 – was being undermined; a view only reinforced by the Hong Kong government’s slow response to public anger over the extradition bill and its reliance on the […]

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