China’s ruling Communist Party replaced Wang Zhimin, the country’s official in charge of relations with Hong Kong.
China’s ministry of human resources and social security announced on 4 January that he has been succeeded by Luo Huining, who was higher in the Communist party hierarchy than Wang, who became head of the Liaison Office in 2017. Analysts say the move is a response to Beijing’s displeasure with Wang.
The event follows months of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, often followed by brutal crackdown by security forces, that began when people took to the streets to reject a bill that would have facilitated extradition to China.
Analysts say Beijing was attempting to take more direct control of Hong Kong policy:
“It’s always been the same group of people managing Hong Kong and Macau affairs, but their abilities are now in doubt. They did not want to take responsibility and produced self-serving reports that misled Beijing when making decisions about the situation in Hong Kong”, an expert warned.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said that the Liaison Office would continue to work with the government under Luo’s leadership, aiming for a “positive development” of the events.
Last month, China’s President Xi Jinping expressed his full support for Lam and for the Hong Kong government.