China appoints Xis former deputy to Hong Kong office

14 Février, 2020, 10:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Vice Chairman Xia Baolong (夏寶龍), 67, is to replace Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明) as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the Chinese State Council said, adding that Zhang is to become a vice director.

"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.

China on Thursday replaced the head of its Cabinet office responsible for Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in the territory and rising tensions over the outbreak of the viral COVID-19 respiratory illness.

Xia is a former Communist Party secretary - the top local official - of the prosperous eastern province of Zhejiang, where president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping spent many years as a top official.

The State Council said two other officials will take on deputy director roles in the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Xia's installation follows last month's appointment of Luo Huining (駱惠寧) as head of China's Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.

"SpiceJet has chose to temporarily suspend its daily Delhi-Hong Kong passenger flight from February 16 to 29, 2020", said an airline spokesman.

Xia was known for his hardline ideology in a 2014 campaign to tear down thousands of crosses and many underground churches in the province while he later took charge of Zhejiang as its party secretary - a post he held until 2017.

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SpiceJet will finally discontinue its daily Delhi-Hong Kong flight from Saturday (February 16).

"While that may give Hong Kong "face", it is certainly going to put Hong Kong under more political pressure", Cabestan said.

In Hong Kong, millions have taken to the streets since June past year, originally in opposition to a now-abandoned proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Zhang had backed the controversial extradition bill, telling a visiting Hong Kong delegation how urgent it was that Hong Kong pass the measure, Reuters reported in December.

"It's the party's tradition to make appointments first and then to start structural changes", said Gu.

China's new Liaison Office director, Luo Huining, wrote in January in the official People's Daily of the need to "establish and flawless the national security protection legal system and executive mechanism, as well as strengthening law enforcement".

Professor Ying Fuk Tsang, the director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the appointment of a close ally of Xi who had consistently shown his eagerness to carry out his orders meant he might also intensify ideological control in Hong Kong.

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