Wang steps down for a literary jobTop News | Angel Kwan 6 Jan 2020
The replaced central government representative in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, has been sent back to Beijing to take up a lesser role as deputy head of the Central Institute for Party History and Literature Research, online news site Bastille Post reported.
China watcher Bruce Lui Ping-kuen said the move was a demotion for Wang, as the position lacks any actual power.
"It was somehow a punishment for his failure on predicting the [unrest] as well as his overconfidence in the district council elections," Lui said.
Wang, whose pay will remain the same, was replaced by Luo Huining as head of the liaison office on Saturday. He is the first senior mainland official to lose his job since the protests erupted in Hong Kong seven months ago.
The decision came two months after a key meeting of the Beijing leadership called for a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism to safeguard national security in Hong Kong.
Luo, 65, is a semi-retired senior official who has just stepped down as secretary of the Shanxi provincial committee of the Communist Party. He was appointed deputy chairman of the financial and economic committee of the National People's Congress on December 28.
Lui said the replacement is "not normal," adding that "delegating two positions to Luo in one week shows that Beijing is still shilly-shallying about their plans for Hong Kong." He also said the move was unexpected as Luo has reached retirement age.
But former Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Lew Mon-hung said the replacement is "a sign of goodwill" from the central government. He said Beijing's decision not to promote any deputies to replace Wang shows that it would like to distance itself from the past policies that weighed "one country" over "two systems."
Commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the move was to balance the "high-handed" approach of Beijing and he expects Luo to expend more effort in economic development and integrating Hong Kong into the mainland.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor welcomed Luo in a statement.
She said under Luo, the liaison office will continue to work together with the SAR government to "promote the integration of Hong Kong into the overall development of the nation."
Editorial: Sacking puts unrest sea change in the air