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Over the past year, Hong Kong has threatened protesters with jail for holding demonstrations banned to due virus-control measures. Now, a decision to forgive three senior officials for attending a dinner in violation of COVID-19 rules has provided a new rallying cry for pro-democracy activists.

“The government has double standards,” Wai Chu, a 41-year-old engineer, said Wednesday. “As long as the person involved is on their side, they will be very tolerant, but when it comes to dealing with young people — the opposition — they will handle it rigorously.”

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