Xu Ze, a veteran central government official for Hong Kong and Macau affairs, has been appointed to a second stint as a deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Xu, 58, served in the office from the early 1980s until 2004, when he left to become a deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Macau, a post regarded as less important. He had held that post for the past nine years.
He will replace Hua Jian as one of the two deputy directors in the office in Beijing, alongside Zhou Bo. The office is headed by Wang Guangya .
Xu was a close aide of Lu Ping , the director of the office until his retirement in August 1997. Xu himself had been expected to retire when he turns 60.
Veteran mainland watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Xu would fill the void left by former deputy director Zhang Xiaoming, who also worked on Hong Kong and Macau affairs for the State Council for decades.
Zhang was appointed director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong in December.
"Xu is a relatively safe choice," Lau said. "His knowledge of the city could help Wang, who was previously a diplomat. But he won't have a decisive impact."
Pro-establishment lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, knows Xu well, having met him a number of times before he took up the post in Macau. Wong said he was an appropriate candidate for the job with his experience of Hong Kong affairs.
"He is rather a low-key person and it is not often we can see his footprint in Beijing's Hong Kong policies," he said.
Xu's appointment was announced yesterday. At the same time, it was announced that Yang Jian , chairman of the Nanfang Media group based in Guangzhou will occupy the role of deputy director of the liaison office in Hong Kong formerly held by Li Gang. Li is expected to become the director of the liaison office in Macau.
Yang, 54, became a deputy director of the Guangdong propaganda department in 2007. Before that he had been president of the Guangdong branch of Xinhua from 2000. Guo Li, another deputy director of Hong Kong's liaison office, who is in charge of economic affairs, will retire.