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It is a rethoric and disingenuous argument to call for a referendum. See Crimea.

The problem is states competing against each other and they know that HK is a way to create trouble for China.

A referendum today is too late..

But if the UK had called one, it might have been different.

We've successful solved territorial disputed with referendums in Europe. We just rarely talk about it, because there was no war to talk about :)

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