Exclusive: China establishes center on mainland to tackle Hong Kong crisis

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — China’s leadership has set up a crisis management center in Hong Kong on the mainland and is considering changing its official to contact the volatile autonomous city as it tries to tighten control over its unrest management efforts, sources familiar with the matter said.

In the face of violent protests in Hong Kong, China’s leaders in recent months have been reacting from a villa on the outskirts of Shenzhen, overtaking the official bureaucracy that had overseen Hong Kong for 20 years.

Communication between Beijing and Hong Kong is usually conducted through a Chinese government body, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government of Hong Kong. The liaison office is located in a skyscraper in Hong Kong uncovered by surveillance cameras, surrounded by steel barriers and protected by toughened glass.

Two sources familiar with the matter said Beijing was considering changing the director of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin, in a sign of discontent with the office’s management of the crisis. Wang is the mainland’s top political official based in Hong Kong.

The office has been criticized in Hong Kong and China for miscalculating the situation in the city. “The liaison office was dealing with the rich and the mainland elite in the city and isolating itself from the people,” a Chinese official said. “That has to change.”

The liaison office may face mounting pressure after voters in the city suffered a defeat for pro-Beijing parties in Sunday’s local elections. Democrat candidates won nearly 90 percent of local council seats, winning their first-ever majority after campaigning against what they said was Beijing’s infringement of freedoms in the city.

The Foreign Office in Hong Kong described the report as “false” in a statement on its website on Tuesday. “Regardless of the changing situation in Hong Kong, the Chinese government’s determination to safeguard national sovereignty and the interests of security and development is unwavering,” he said.

China was committed to the “one country, two systems” policy under which things were administered in Hong Kong and opposed the intervention of “outside powers” in the affairs of the city.

The Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong and Macao did not respond to the fax request.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam declined to comment on the report.

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