China replaces its Hong Kong and Macau affairs office chief Zhang Xiaoming

In a photo taken on Oct 13, 2016, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Zhang Xiaoming attends the funeral of Hong Kong property group New World Development Cheng Yu-tung.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING - China is replacing the head of its office that oversees matters in Hong Kong, Beijing announced on Thursday (Feb 13), after months of anti-government protests in the Chinese-controlled territory.

Zhang Xiaoming will be removed as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the human resources ministry said, to be replaced by Xia Baolong, a 67-year-old vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of pro-democracy, anti-government protests that began in early June, as residents demonstrated against China's increasing grip on the city.

Protesters have sought to pressure the local government with a combination of peaceful mass marches as well as more violent actions that have seen mainland-linked businesses vandalised, universities seized and the city's transport networks shut down for days.

The protests in the Asian financial hub led to the eventual withdrawal of a highly unpopular legislation to allow extraditions to China.