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Over a dozen Hong Kong lawmakers staged a protest in the legislature on Wednesday, chanting “Protect press freedom!” and holding up placards reading “Free Press, No Persecution” until security guards escorted them from the chamber.

The protest was inspired by Hong Kong’s refusal to renew the visa of Financial Times editor and Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) vice-president Victor Mallet.

Mallet was effectively expelled from Hong Kong last week when the government did not renew his work visa, apparently in retaliation for inviting the leader of the banned Hong Kong National Party to an FCC meeting. The government had not yet banned the party when leader Andy Chan spoke at the FCC event.

The demonstration and walkout occurred during Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s policy address to parliament. Lam took a hard line against challenges to mainland China’s authority.

“Hong Kong will not tolerate any acts that advocate Hong Kong’s independence and threaten the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” she said. “We will fearlessly take actions against such acts according to the law in order to safeguard the interests of the country and Hong Kong.”

According to the Hong Kong Free Pressa number of pro-democracy lawmakers greetedLam with the “protect press freedom” chant when she entered the chamber and then walked out. Several others continued chanting until they were escorted out by security guards.

“After Lam’s speech, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui asked for a debate on the visa rejection issue at the chamber, but it was rejected by Legislative Council President Andrew Leung,” HKFP reported.

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