China on Friday promoted Hong Kong’s prime safety official to the territory’s No. 2 spot as Beijing appears to be like to the administration of the Asian monetary hub to clamp down on free speech and political opposition.
Chief Government Carrie Lam stated Secretary for Safety John Lee would change Matthew Cheung as town’s chief secretary, whereas police chief Chris Tang would take over Lee’s position. Raymond Siu Chak-yee, Tang’s deputy, will take over as head of the police drive.
Hong Kong’s authorities has lengthy been lauded for its professionalism and effectivity, however its picture has been battered in recent times by its response to protests for larger democracy and its enforcement of Beijing’s safety insurance policies. The U.S. and different Western democracies have imposed visa bans and different sanctions on Lam, Lee and different members of the administration.
Violent clashes between police and pro-democracy demonstrators in 2019 prompted the central authorities to undertake a agency line in opposition to political concessions, a coverage seen by way of by Lam, Lee, Tang and Siu, who made restoring public order their prime precedence.
“They’ve had distinguished efficiency within the authorities through the years and possess confirmed management expertise,” Lam stated of these promoted. “I’m assured that they’re competent for his or her new posts and would rise to the challenges in serving the group.”
Cheung, the previous No. 2, shall be retiring from authorities service.
The management modifications come a yr after Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation on the previous British colony and in the future after Hong Kong’s final remaining pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Each day, printed its ultimate version.
Police froze $2.3 million of the paper’s property, searched its workplace and arrested 5 prime editors and executives final week, accusing them of overseas collusion to hazard nationwide safety. It’s founder, Jimmy Lai, is dealing with costs below the nationwide safety legislation for overseas collusion and is at the moment serving a jail sentence for his involvement in a 2019 pro-democracy protest motion.
Beijing promised Hong Kong may keep its civil liberties for 50 years after the previous British colony was handed over to Chinese language rule in 1997, however has basically deserted that dedication to impose complete political management and finish what it sees as undue overseas affect on the semi-autonomous metropolis’s establishments.
China successfully ended multiparty democracy in Hong Kong by having the ceremonial Chinese language legislature impose the nationwide safety legislation with out debate or a vote within the metropolis’s Legislative Council. It then moved to pack the Legislative Council with Beijing loyalists whereas radically decreasing the proportion of legislators straight elected by voters.
In latest months, police have arrested a lot of the metropolis’s pro-democracy activists. Most are nonetheless in police custody, whereas others have sought asylum overseas, below menace from Lam’s administration for previous statements and actions seen as disloyal to China or in violation of Hong Kong legislation because it now stands.
Regardless of the overwhelming emphasis on safety, Lam instructed reporters that the position of the chief secretary in serving to oversee town’s each day administration, together with coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, had not modified.
But she appeared to acknowledge Beijing’s more and more assertive position in managing town’s affairs and the central authorities’s demand for absolute loyalty from Hong Kong officers and members of the Legislative Council.
“Now at this time as chief govt, I’m accountable not solely to Hong Kong but additionally to the central authorities, performing nationwide duties, notably in safeguarding nationwide safety,” Lam instructed reporters. “So for individuals with dedication, integrity, management and spirit to serve the nation and Hong Kong … we are going to put in our greatest.”