China plans to replace Hong Kong embattled leader Carrie Lam as the city’s chief executive while citing people briefed on the deliberations, which would bring to a close Lam’s rule after months of pro-democracy protests, according to reports.
Lam has become a lightning rod for sweeping protests over fears that Beijing is tightening its grip and limiting the freedoms enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.
If Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to go ahead, Lam’s successor would be appointed by March and cover the remainder of her term, which ends in 2022, Financial Times reported.
Hong Kong’s protests started in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, a move many feared would undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
According to the FT, Lam’s top successors include a former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Norman Chan, and Henry Tang, who has also served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, the report said.
Earlier in the month, Lam had introduced a ban on people wearing masks at public rallies, colonial-era emergency legislation that has not been used in more than half a century.
The controversial China extradition bill was withdrawn in early September but the movement has morphed into a wider campaign for greater democracy and against alleged police brutality.