hile reporting has indicated that Carrie Lam may finally get her wish, China has dismissed the notion that it has any plans to replace Hong Kong’s chief executive.
The Financial Times dropped a bit of a bombshell article on Wednesday, reporting that China was looking to replace the extremely beleaguered and unpopular Lam with an “interim” leader by March 2020.
However, at a press conference later in the day in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying flatly dismissed the report, calling it a “political rumor” from those with “ulterior motives” and stressing Beijing’s support for Lam.
Throughout these more than 20 weeks of crisis in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has repeatedly voiced its support for Lam, even if she doesn’t appear to want it. Last month, audio leaked of her saying in a private meeting that she would quit if she had a choice.
At a closed-door meeting, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam expresses deep regrets about her push to pass the extradition bill, according to an audio recording reviewed by @Reuters. Read the @specialreports: https://t.co/I5T1VoGHxh by @GregTorode @jamespomfret @a_roantree pic.twitter.com/vVCZQkUBhV
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 2, 2019
Reporting all the way back in July claimed that Lam wanted to resign but that Beijing insisted she “stay to clean up the mess she created,” noting that “no one else wants the job.”
And indeed, it appears an unenviable position, stuck squarely in between the central government in Beijing and pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong. Reportedly, Beijing is searching for someone untainted by the extradition bill crisis, the FT names two possible candidates:
- Henry Tang Ying-nien: Hong Kong’s former Chief Secretary (2007-2011) and Financial Secretary (2003-2007) who lost the 2012 Chief Executive election to CY Leung.
- Norman Chan Tak-lam: The former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. He stepped down at the end of last month in a pre-announced move.