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Politics

China replaces head of its Hong Kong and Macau affairs office

Zhang Xiaoming is the most senior official to lose his job over Hong Kong unrest

Zhang Xiaoming, center, then director of China's office handling Hong Kong affairs, attends the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, in Hong Kong on Sept. 22, 2018.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China has replaced the head of its office overseeing matters in Hong Kong, making him the most senior Beijing-appointed official to lose his job in the wake of sometimes-violent anti-government protests in the Chinese-controlled territory.

China's Human Resources Ministry announced on Thursday that Zhang Xiaoming would be removed as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), to be replaced by Xia Baolong, a 67-year-old vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Hong Kong has been roiled by more than seven months of protests over an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Zhang's removal follows Beijing's move in January to replace the head of its Hong Kong liaison office.

Xia was Chinese President Xi Jinping's deputy when Xi was Communist Party secretary of Zhejiang province from 2003 to 2007. He became known for a hard-line approach in 2015 for a campaign to tear down underground churches there.

The government also said on Thursday that it had appointed as deputy directors of the HKMAO Luo Huining, who became the new liaison office head in January, and Fu Ziying, the director of the Macau liaison office.

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