Architect of China's cross removal to oversee Hong Kong and Macau affairs

Clay Curtis
February 15, 2020

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's push in 2014 and 2015 to tear down crosses on the roofs of churches in eastern Zhejiang was widely criticized by the worldwide community. Although demands to Hong Kong have decreased as well, the region is exempt from United States emergency regulations quarantining citizens and permanent residents, and barring entry by foreign citizens, who have been to China within the previous 14 days.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Thursday extended her welcome to the appointment of Xia Baolong as the new director for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

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 State Council added that Luo Huining, head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, and Fu Ziying, who heads the Macau liaison office, will also be given the roles of deputy director while still keeping their existing positions. The city has been roiled by more than seven months of protests over an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Coronavirus information airport
Lufthansa has updated its schedule in line with coronavirus developments

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

Air Canada said its daily non-stop Vancouver-Hong Kong flights will accommodate customers originally booked on its Toronto-Hong Kong flights. SpiceJet crew was reportedly very unhappy with the airline's decision to continue flying to Hong Kong. Political analysts are not surprised by the close appointments of Xia and Luo: in Party circles, the two are considered "president's men " Xi Jinping.

During this period, the airline said it will continue to fly its daily Vancouver-Hong Kong route.

The reshuffle could pave the way for Beijing to possibly introduce a national education curriculum and a controversial national security law that prompted mass demonstrations in 2003, said Gu Su, a retired law professor at Nanjing University in China.

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

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