Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying presents his Policy Address in front of Legislative Council President Andrew Leung. Photo: Reuters / Bobby Yip

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying ruled out the possibility of the city becoming an independent state as he delivered his last annual policy blueprint on Wednesday morning.

“Hong Kong is an inalienable part of our country,” Leung said at the beginning of his Policy Address. “There is absolutely no room for independence or any form of separation.”

China has ruled Hong Kong under a special arrangement known as “one country, two systems” since 1997, when Britain relinquished what had been its colony.

Everyone in the Asian financial hub bears an obligation to “safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” Leung said.

Leung also denounced separatism during his address in 2015, attacking a magazine published by students at the University of Hong Kong that advocated self-determination for Hong Kong people. That triggered worries about erosion of academic and speech freedom.

During Leung’s tenure, Hong Kong has seen rising support for separatism, with two activists who campaigned on this platform elected to its Legislative Council last year, although they were later barred over their refusal to follow the script on the oaths required of them.

The incumbent leader has declared that he will not seek re-election after his current five-year term ends in June.