Reuters International

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang points out a reporter to receive a question at a regular news conference in Beijing, in this file photo dated October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry on Friday accused unidentified people in the United States of trying to "disturb" social order in Hong Kong, after the U.S. State Department expressed further concern the territory's autonomy was being eroded.

The State Department made the comments in its latest report on the former British colony, released on Wednesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that as Hong Kong was a part of China, no other country had a right to interfere in its internal affairs.

"We also remind the United States that certain people on the U.S. side have always wanted to disturb Hong Kong, disturb its socio-economic development, disturb the normal order of its residents' lives, and even use the Hong Kong issue to interfere in China's internal affairs," he told a daily news briefing.

"This can only be futile. The only effect it will have is to cause Chinese people to go on alert and have a bad reaction."

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under agreements that its broad freedoms, way of life and legal system would remain unchanged for 50 years.

Beijing's refusal to grant the former British colony full democracy has embittered a younger generation of activists who launched big protests in 2014.

Political tension has simmered amid occasional incidents of unrest. A riot erupted in the city in February after a dispute between authorities and street vendors.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about developments in Hong Kong, including freedom of the press and human rights issues.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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