See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Politics

China says no plan to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, dismisses report

The statement came concurrently with the Hong Kong government removing a contentious extradition bill that sparked protests.


Written by

Updated: October 24, 2019

Beijing refuted a media report on Wednesday (Oct 23) that claims it is drawing up plans to replace Hong Kong’s beleaguered Chief Executive Carrie Lam with an “interim leader”, calling it “a political rumour with ulterior motives”.

The Financial Times had reported that should Chinese President Xi Jinping sign off on the plan, Mrs Lam’s successor would be installed by March next year and serve out the rest of her term, citing people briefed on the deliberations.

But her replacement might not necessarily serve a full five-year term, the newspaper reported.

At a regular press briefing after the report was published, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said: “The central government firmly supports Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam… to put an end to violence and chaos and restore order as soon as possible.”

When approached by The Straits Times, the Chief Executive’s Office said it does not comment on speculation.

Hong Kong has been roiled by nearly five months of unrest since Mrs Lam tried to introduce a contentious extradition Bill, which would have allowed for the handover of fugitives to several jurisdictions, including mainland China.

This exacerbated fears that the city’s relative freedoms as compared to the rest of the country were quickly eroding, drawing millions onto the streets in protest.

In leaked remarks released last month by Reuters, Mrs Lam said it was “unforgivable” for a Chief Executive to cause such havoc to Hong Kong, adding that she would resign if she had the choice. She made the remarks to a group of business people during a closed-door meeting.

Her handling of the incident has been marked by a series of missteps, including attempting to push through the Bill earlier this year despite widespread public opposition.

While the Bill will be formally withdrawn on Wednesday, protests have evolved into a movement calling for more democracy. Protesters are also unhappy with what they say is the police’s excessive use of force.

Mrs Lam’s use of a colonial-era emergency law to ban face masks at public gatherings, punishable by up to a year in jail, has also done little to stem the unrest that has exposed deep fissures in society.

The economy has been hit hard with Hong Kong entering a technical recession for the first time last month as tourists, a major source of income, have been staying away.

In a policy speech last week, Mrs Lam also attempted to assuage public unhappiness by addressing economic concerns, including making it easier for first-time buyers to get mortgages, increase land supply and give annual grants for students as well as more subsidies for public transport.

But there was nothing to address protester demands, which include granting amnesty to those arrested for rioting, an independent inquiry on police actions and universal suffrage.

“I don’t think replacing Carrie Lam could solve the problem completely,” 18-year-old student Joyce Ho told AFP.

“If the government can respond to the five demands, I believe Hong Kongers would stop (the protests).”

Potential candidates include former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Norman Chan and former No. 2 official Henry Tang, a candidate for the Chief Executive post in 2012.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Politics

China’s coronavirus fight remains challenging

 Key Party meeting calls for full vigilance in control, prevention tasks to avoid risks. The novel coronavirus epidemic in Hubei province is still complicated and challenging, a key Party meeting concluded on Wednesday as it drew attention to the risks of the epidemic rebounding in other areas. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, presided over the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in which members listened to a report by the leading group of the CPC Central Committee on coping with the epidemic outbreak and discussed key related tasks. At the meeting, Xi and other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee donate


By China Daily
February 27, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

UN chief hails China’s efforts to contain outbreak

Official urges all countries to ‘do everything to be prepared’ to contain the epidemic. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday praised China’s contribution to the global fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, noting that the Chinese people are making efforts for all of humanity. The UN chief expressed his gratitude to all of the people in China who are sacrificing many aspects of their normal lives to prevent the virus from further spreading, after discussing the outbreak with World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva. Guterres said the decline in the number of new cases in China since the beginning of February is a very good sign, and he expressed the hope that this trend


By China Daily
February 26, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

WHO calls China’s anti-virus effort ‘aggressive, agile’

Control measures taken by the country offered experience in improving the global response to the disease. While the substantial recent slowdown in the spread of novel coronavirus in China is real, and it is now reasonable to restore work activities step by step, health experts warned that risks abound of the virus flaring up again and they cautioned against complacency, the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 said at a news conference after its one-week field investigations in China. “Ambitious, agile and aggressive” control measures taken by China to control the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, bolstered by nationwide solidarity and advanced scientific research, have altered the curve of the outbreak for the better, averted a large number of potentia


By China Daily
February 25, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

Map shows latest tally of Covid-19 cases in Taiwan, Taipei tops list

 After Taiwan reported its first confirmed cases, health authorities finally released on Monday the latest tally of Covid-19 cases in each administrative region, with Taipei being the highest.  More than one month after Taiwan reported its first confirmed cases, health authorities finally released on Monday the latest tally of COVID-19 cases in each administrative region, with Taipei being the highest. An interactive map on the website of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows the cities and counties where the country’s 28 coronavirus patients currently reside. Marked in red, the capital city has listed sev


By Asia News Network
February 24, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

Asean, China enhance cooperation in response to Covid-19

The Asean Coordinating Council (ACC) and the Asean-China Foreign Ministers met on Thursday in Laos to discuss to how to respond to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The ACC’s special meeting, initiated by Vietnam as Chair of ASEAN, was attended by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN Secretary-General. Chairing the meeting, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said the event aimed to implement the ASEAN Chair’s Statement released on February 14 on the bloc’s collective response to COVID-19. Minh said that in the face of the epidemic, ASEAN needed to promote its cohesive and responsive spirit, and intensify co-operation within the bloc and between the bloc and its partners to respond to ch


By Viet Nam News
February 21, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

EDITORIAL: China’s foreign minister to attend special meeting with Asean on virus

China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend a special Asean-China foreign ministers’ meeting in Laos this week to discuss the coronavirus outbreak. China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend a special Asean-China foreign ministers’ meeting in Laos this week to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, which has battered manufacturing and tourism across the region and led to an array of travel restrictions. Mr Wang will co-chair the meeting with Foreign Secretary Teodoro Lopez Locsin from the Philippines, which is the Asean-China country coordinator, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang announced yesterday. The event on Thursday in Vientiane will be attended by other foreign ministers


By The Straits Times
February 20, 2020