Hong Kong people’s ties with the British colonial era should be respected, Li Gang, deputy director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong said on Thursday. “Many Hong Kong citizens grew up during the British colonial era and received a western-style education, so their habits and ideologies should be respected,” said Li Gang. “But any attempt to make Hong Kong an independent nation would not be tolerated,” he said. Li also told SCMP he believed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had done a good job improving people’s livelihoods and encouraging democracy. Li said Beijing had no plans to replace Leung. Hong Kong’s colonial era ended on July 1, 1997 when the territory was handed back to China.