China named an official known for tearing crosses from the roofs of churches to lead the agency that oversees Hong Kong, in the biggest shakeup yet after months of unrest. Xia Baolong, 67, the vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, will replace Zhang Xiaoming as director of the Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office, the State Council said Thursday. Zhang will become a vice director, it said. Xia is a former close aide to President Xi Jinping and served as Communist Party chief of Zhejiang province during the crackdown on Christian churches.
Xia’s installation follows last month’s appointment of Luo Huining as head of China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong. The choice of Luo, a Communist Party cadre known for executing Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, was seen as a signal of Beijing’s intention to restore order over Hong Kong after months of violent unrest opposing China’s grip on the city.
“The reshuffling at this interesting moment may point to a deep distrust from Xi Jinping toward the former faction dealing with Hong Kong affairs,” said Sonny Lo, a Hong Kong-based academic and political commentator.
“It’s clear that Xi Jinping wants to have a clear grasp of the situation in Hong Kong — that’s the major point,” Lo added. “We’ll probably see some adjustment in Chinese policy toward Hong Kong.” Under Pressure
The rare appointment of such a senior official potentially signals a permanent overhaul in how Beijing manages the former British colony. The Communist Party issued a communique late last […]
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