Thursday, 27 February, 2020

China appoints hardliner to Hong Kong office

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Deanna Wagner | 15 February, 2020, 11:40

The architect of the three-year cross removal and church destruction campaign in the Chinese province of Zhejiang has been appointed to head the Office of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, in what many see as a signal that Beijing intends to take a hardline approach in the financial hub that has been roiled by more than six months of street protests. "It signals that China will bring Hong Kong under closer scrutiny and tighten control over all aspects of the city", he said.

Speculation has also swirled that Beijing may be preparing to replace Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam when matters settle down.

Xia is a former close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and served as Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief of Zhejiang Province during a crackdown on Christian churches.

The Communist Party issued a communique late past year signalling greater intervention in everything from education in Hong Kong to how the city picks its leader.

"I think Xi Jinping wanted to find someone he could trust", said Cabestan.

Beijing also said on February 13 that it had appointed as deputy directors of the HKMAO Luo Huining, who became the new liaison office head in January, and Fu Ziying, the director of the Macau liaison office.

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United previously planned on resuming flights to Hong Kong on February 20, and to the Chinese mainland on March 28. "SpiceJet has made a decision to temporarily suspend its daily Delhi-Hong Kong passenger flight from February 16 to 29, 2020", said an airline spokesman.

"Xia is not a moderate and he has shown himself to be a zealous servant of Xi Jinping".

Mr. Xia frankly lacks experience in Hong Kong affairs and had previously retired from front line politics almost three years ago. "We can expect that to continue", Cabestan said.

The bill was scrapped after mass demonstrations, and the protests evolved into calls for greater democracy, posing a popular challenge to Xi since he came to power.

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

The government also said on Thursday that it had appointed as deputy directors of the HKMAO Luo Huining, who became the new liaison office head in January, and Fu Ziying, the director of the Macau liaison office.