Upheaval at liaison office dismissed as 'fake news'

Top News | Staff repo rter 27 Nov 2019

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong has labeled as "fake news" a Reuters report that quoted unnamed sources as saying Beijing was considering the replacement of liaison office director Wang Zhimin.

In diplomatic language used to show dissatisfaction against overseas countries, the office lodged a "stern representation" to Reuters for carrying the report.

It was said the central government is determined to oppose external forces from meddling in Hong Kong affairs.

This was after Reuters reported that the leadership was considering replacing its official liaison to Hong Kong, quoting "people familiar with the matter."

Reuters also reported that the leadership had a crisis command center at a property on the outskirts of Shenzhen, and as violent protests roiled the SAR various leading officials managed moves from the secluded and leafy Bauhinia Villa, which is owned by the liaison office.

Reuters noted that communications between Beijing and Hong Kong are usually conducted through the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.

But in a sign of dissatisfaction with the office's handling of the crisis, Beijing was supposedly considering potential replacements for director Wang.

This was after the office came in for criticism in Hong Kong and Beijing for misjudging the situation in the SAR.

"The liaison office has been mingling with the rich people and mainland elites and isolated itself from the people," a Chinese official reportedly said. "This needs to be changed."

And Beijing representatives are said to have summoned Hong Kong officials to meet them at Bauhinia Villa throughout the months of the increasingly violent anti-government protests.

Among them were Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor, police officials, business leaders and pro-Beijing politicians.

Vice ministerial level officials with the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, the Cyberspace Administration of China and other departments were also said to have visited the villa.

And the two most senior Chinese leaders overseeing Hong Kong have supposedly used Bauhinia Villa to deal more closely with local leaders.

One is Zhang Xiaoming, the head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. The other is Vice Premier Han Zheng, who arrived at the villa and summoned Lam for a meeting a day after protesters blocked access to the Legislative Council on June 12.

When Lam proposed a suspension of the bill at that meeting, Han reportedly agreed after talking with other leaders in Beijing.

In an indication of the operation's importance, Reuters said, President Xi Jinping has received daily briefings from Bauhinia Villa.

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