Beijing denies it has plans to replace Carrie Lam

Domestic News

Last week, the Financial Times reported that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is on her way out, with Beijing seeking to replace her by March next year with a candidate who doesn’t have any connections with the extradition law mess. The Chinese foreign ministry initially dismissed this reporting as "political rumors with ulterior motives," but has since scrubbed that denial from the official transcript of its press briefing.

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

Beijing had a little Lam…

Mass protests in Hong Kong began nearly five months ago, sparked by the decision of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) to introduce an extradition law amendment bill that would have undermined the city’s legal autonomy from mainland China.

At times in the protests, especially in their beginnings in June, Hongkongers have demanded that Carrie Lam step down, but this did not become part of the now widely accepted and reproduced “five demands” of the protesters.

Nevertheless, few in Hong Kong would complain if Carrie Lam were replaced — and Lam herself has been caught on tape saying, “If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit” — though the protesters’ fifth demand is for a more structural change: free and universal elections for chief executive.

…and everywhere that Beijing went…

Last week, the Financial Times reported that Carrie Lam is on her way out, with Beijing seeking to replace her by March next year with a candidate who doesn’t have any connections with the extradition law mess.

The Chinese foreign ministry dismissed this reporting as “political rumors with ulterior motives.”

…Lam was sure to go

Tellingly, the denial of the report from the Chinese foreign ministry has been scrubbed from the official transcript of the press briefing from last Wednesday (EnglishChinese).

CNN has also confirmed that discussions of Lam’s successor have taken place, although “a final decision has yet to be made by Xi.”

According to the Financial Times, “Leading candidates to succeed Ms Lam include Norman Chan [陳德霖 Chén Délín], former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Henry Tang [唐英年 Táng Yīngnián], son of a textile magnate who has also served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration.”