Hot on the heels of the recent 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was a key personnel overhaul on the provincial level: Hu Chunhua will step down as party secretary of Guangdong province, and Li Xi, former party secretary of Liaoning province, will take his place.
So far, mainland officialdom has not announced what new position Hu will hold next.
However, there has been talk on the internet that Hu might be promoted to vice premier soon. Also, according to sources from the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong, Hu is likely to replace Vice President Li Yuanchao as the new deputy leader of the Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs.
Over the years, the central coordination group has remained a high-level but low-profile body charged with overseeing Hong Kong and Macau affairs.
After the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, Zhang Dejiang, the incumbent chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, replaced President Xi Jinping as leader of the central coordination group, with Li Yuanchao, head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee Sun Chunlan, and state councilor Yang Jiechi serving as his deputies.
However, as both Zhang and Li are set to retire from office soon, it is widely expected that new faces are going to dominate the next Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs.
Among them is likely to be the 54-year-old Hu, who served as party secretary of Guangdong province for five years. And many are confident that he would prove the right man for the new job given his knowledge about Hong Kong.
As to who will succeed Zhang in leading the task force, some in local political circles believe Li Zhanshu, the newly appointed member of the Politburo Standing Committee who is closely allied to Xi Jinping, is likely to be named its new head.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said that no matter who becomes the next head and deputy head of the coordination group, it would not have much impact on Beijing’s policy toward Hong Kong since President Xi made the policy very clear during his visit in July.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 31
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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