Zhang Xiaoming to head liaison office; Peng Qinghua to be Guangxi party chief

Zhang Xiaoming, veteran of HK affairs, will replace Peng Qinghua, new Guangxi party chief

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 4:41am

Zhang Xiaoming is to take over as head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, weeks after he caused controversy by saying "external forces" were meddling in Hong Kong politics, according to sources.

He will succeed Peng Qinghua, who will become Communist Party secretary of Guangxi , say the sources, who are familiar with the reshuffle of liaison office staff.

Peng will take the post in the southwestern autonomous region early next year, a switch that could signal further political advancement for the 55-year-old, who is seen by some as a rising star in the Communist Party.

Peng was re-elected as a full member of the party's Central Committee last month. Zhang was chosen as an alternate member.

People close to Zhang described him as mild but firm, and decisive.

The 49-year-old will take over as liaison office head with more experience of Hong Kong affairs than his predecessors, having worked for the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office for 26 years.

He is a deputy director of the office and once served as secretary to its former head Liao Hui.

Zhang is also an expert on the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini constitution, and sits on the Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

His knowledge of constitutional affairs may serve him well, with Hong Kong preparing to start thrashing out how to elect the chief executive by universal suffrage - expected in 2017.

Zhang recently wrote an article accusing external forces of interference in Hong Kong's elections and called on the special administrative region to pass the national security law required under Article 23 of the Basic Law "in due course". Pan-democrats took this as a sign the central government may tighten its grip on the city.

Peng's role in Guangxi, which borders Guangdong to the west, will equip him with experience of local government, which is usually seen as a prerequisite for a party official to rise higher in the hierarchy. Service in Hong Kong does not count.

The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that liaison office deputy director Li Gang will become Beijing's top representative in Macau.