China plans to replace Carrie Lam with 'interim' chief: FT

October 23, 2019 09:40
The leading candidates to succeed Chief Executive Carrie Lam include former HKMA head Norman Chan (left) and former chief secretary Henry Tang, the Financial Times said. Photo: AFP/HKEJ/CNSA


China is drawing up a plan to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor with an “interim” chief executive, the Financial Times reported, citing people briefed on the deliberations, which would bring to a close Lam’s rule after months of often-violent pro-democracy protests.

China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday the FT report was a political rumor with ulterior motives.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Chief Executive Lam has become a lightning rod for protests over fears that Beijing is tightening its grip, limiting the freedoms enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined when colonial ruler Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

Sources told the newspaper that officials in China want the situation in Hong Kong to stabilize before making a final decision, as they do not want to be seen to be giving in to violence.

If Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to go ahead, Lam's successor would be appointed by March and cover the remainder of her term, which ends in 2022, the FT said.

The leading candidates to succeed Lam include Norman Chan Tak-lam, the former chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Henry Tang Ying-yen, who had served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, the report said.

In September, in response to a Reuters report about a recording of Lam saying she would step down if she could, she said she had never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the political crisis in Hong Kong.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the city since mid-June in sometimes violent protests against an extradition bill that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

Although the bill was finally withdrawn, the protests have continued, defying police rulings banning them.

China has denied the accusation it is eroding the freedoms granted in 1997, and has blamed foreign nations such as the United States and Britain for inciting unrest. Reuters

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