China’s New Hong Kong Affairs Director Used to Rip Crosses From Church buildings

China named an official recognized for tearing crosses from the roofs of church buildings to steer the company that oversees Hong Kong, within the largest shakeup but after months of unrest.

Xia Baolong, 67, the vice chairman of the Chinese language Folks’s Political Consultative Convention, will change Zhang Xiaoming as director of the Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Workplace, the State Council mentioned Thursday. Zhang will turn into a vice director, it mentioned. Xia is a former shut aide to President Xi Jinping and served as Communist Social gathering chief of Zhejiang province throughout the crackdown on Christian church buildings.

Xia’s set up follows final month’s appointment of Luo Huining as head of China’s Liaison Workplace in Hong Kong. The selection of Luo, a Communist Social gathering cadre recognized for executing Xi’s anti-corruption marketing campaign, was seen as a sign of Beijing’s intention to revive order over Hong Kong after months of violent unrest opposing China’s grip on town.

“The reshuffling at this attention-grabbing second might level to a deep mistrust from Xi Jinping towards the previous faction coping with Hong Kong affairs,” mentioned Sonny Lo, a Hong Kong-based tutorial and political commentator.

“It’s clear that Xi Jinping desires to have a transparent grasp of the scenario in Hong Kong — that’s the foremost level,” Lo added. “We’ll in all probability see some adjustment in Chinese language coverage towards Hong Kong.”

Below Stress

The uncommon appointment of such a senior official probably indicators a everlasting overhaul in how Beijing manages the previous British colony. The Communist Social gathering issued a communique late final yr signaling better intervention in every little thing from training in Hong Kong to how town picks its chief.

Xia’s push in 2014 and 2015 to tear down crosses on the roofs of church buildings in ­the jap province of Zhejiang was extensively criticized by the worldwide group. He was subsequently appointed to a management position on the CPPCC, the nation’s political advisory physique and a submit normally seen as a transition towards retirement for senior leaders.

Hong Kong’s authorities, having weathered months of mass protests, now faces deepening public mistrust over its dealing with of the unfold of a coronavirus outbreak centered on the mainland that’s led to runs on surgical masks and bathroom paper and shuttered native faculties by March. Chief Govt Carrie Lam has been underneath strain from some teams, together with well being care staff, to totally seal off the border with mainland China.

Although she stopped in need of doing so, key checkpoints are largely closed, together with the ferry terminal that hyperlinks Hong Kong and Macau. The gaming hub, in the meantime, has been compelled to briefly shut its casinos.

Xia’s appointment got here as a lot of the world was targeted on China’s alternative of high officers in virus-stricken Hubei. On Thursday, China additionally introduced the alternative of Jiang Chaoliang, the celebration’s Hubei secretary, in response to the official Xinhua Information Company.

–With help from Li Liu and Dandan Li.

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