China plans to replace Carrie Lam with ‘interim’ chief executive

DHARAMSALA, 23 Oct: China is preparing to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam with an ‘interim’ chief executive after months of pro-democracy protests, reports the Financial Times.

China is drawing up a plan to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam with an “interim” chief executive, the report said citing people briefed on the discussions.

The report stated that Beijing will first wait for the protests to subside which spiralled under Lam’s watch before making the call to avoid being seen to be giving in to violence.

Once the Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to go ahead, Lam’s successor would be appointed by March till 2022 when her term ends, the report added.

The report named Norman Chan, the former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Henry Tang, who has also served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration as the leading candidate to succeed Hong Kong’s beleaguered leader.

Mass protests have gripped Hong Kong since June earlier this year. It was sparked by a controversial bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China.

Though the controversial bill has been withdrawn after months of protest, the move proved too little too late from the Hong Kong government as protesters are demanding all their five demands to be met which include full withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality, retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters,” Amnesty for arrested protesters and dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive.

Protesters wearing masks is a common sight in the island to hide their identity and over fears, their employers could face pressure to take action against them.

Meanwhile, Carrie Lam on 4 Oct announced the ban on protesters from wearing the face mask at a press conference as she invoked colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years.

Masks along with yellow helmets, goggles and respirators became essential for the protesters to protect themselves from tear gas and police projectiles.

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