China demotes top official in charge of Hong Kong

Hotpot is latest casualty of Covid-19 virus , Latest Makan News - The New Paper

Hotpot is latest casualty of Covid-19 virus , Latest Makan News - The New Paper

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.

The reshuffle comes after months of political unrest - the starkest challenge to Beijing since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The airline typically flies about a dozen daily flights between the U.S. and the China or Hong Kong, including to the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai.

A brief notice on the central government's website said Xia Baolong would take over from Zhang Xiaoming as Beijing's chief representative in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

"The importance is not their lack of Hong Kong experience but their closeness and loyalty to Xi", said Hong Kong-based political commentator Sonny Lo, who said the new team could engineer changes in Hong Kong officials and policies, using possible handouts and improved social welfare as sweeteners.

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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Boss added: 'When certain Federal Bureau of Investigation agencies are looking for you, they are going to block the airport. You can write a fiction story but this is not a fiction. "This is facts through certain people I know", said Boss.

"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.

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.

Cabestan said Xia, a former Zhejiang Communist Party chief, has since been known for a hardline approach in fighting the re-emergence of Christianity there.

He was subsequently appointed to a leadership role on the CPPCC, the nation's political advisory body and a post usually seen as a transition toward retirement for senior leaders.

In recent days, Hong Kong's leaders have faced criticism as well over shortages of masks and resources that emerged in their handling of a virus epidemic starting from the mainland. The gaming hub, meanwhile, has been forced to temporarily close its casinos. His appointment came amid a purge of officials in Hubei, the province wracked by the coronavirus outbreak.

Zhang's demotion, together with the appointment of 67-year-old Xia, underscores a potentially more assertive approach by Xi in how he manages Hong Kong's affairs, analysts said.

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