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Former liaison chief in Hong Kong Peng Qinghua to take top job in Sichuan

Former chief of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong to take over from Wang Dongming, who was elected NPC Standing Committee vice-chair on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 9:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 1:47pm

Peng Qinghua, the Communist Party boss of Guangxi province, is expected to take over from Sichuan party chief Wang Dongming, a Beijing-based source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

The transfer was decided as Wang was elected National People’s Congress Standing Committee vice-chairman on Saturday.

“The party head of Jiangxi province, Lu Xinshe, will fill the vacancy left by Peng,” the source said.

“Liu Qi, Lu’s deputy and provincial governor of Jiangxi, will be elevated to be Jiangxi’s party head.”

Peng, 60 and from Hubei province, is best known to Hongkongers for his work at the central government’s liaison office in the city. He was deputy director there from 2003 until he was promoted to director in 2009, holding the position for about three years.

He joined the liaison office in 2003, when public perception of the local and mainland governments had hit rock bottom. Just months before Peng joined, half a million people took to the streets to protest against plans to enact national security laws under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Critics said that the laws, if enacted, would threaten civil liberties.

In 2010, Peng strongly criticised the coordinated resignations of five pro-democracy lawmakers, who quit to trigger a de facto referendum on universal suffrage for the city.

“Hong Kong people treasure the rights of democracy and freedom, and disdain endless political disputes,” Peng said at the time.

Last year, as Guangxi’s party boss, he described the NPC’s interpretation of Article 104 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, which effectively disqualified two pro-independence lawmakers, as “very encouraging”.

He said the interpretation was like “crushing a crab to death”, citing a Cantonese idiom.

Beijing’s man in Hong Kong hails bold new era of cooperation, says liaison office will be ‘working more and closer’ with city

Peng, who holds a business doctorate, was appointed Guangxi party boss in December 2012. From 2013 to 2017 the province’s GDP grew 41 per cent, reaching more than 2 trillion yuan (HK$2.5 trillion).

Guangxi lies on the border with Vietnam and is within striking distance of the rest of Southeast Asia. To help drive change, Guangxi’s government has branded the region the “Chinese gateway” to Southeast Asia.

When Peng was liaison office director, he sought to push Hong Kong’s integration with the mainland. Now, with his familiarity with the city, the mainland and Southeast Asian affairs, eyes are on whether he will push for stronger regional links to drive economic cooperation.

Beijing has been actively pushing ahead with the “Greater Bay Area” for stronger cooperation among Hong Kong, Macau and the cities of Guangdong province.

Liu, also 60, spent more than three decades in Zhejiang before becoming mayor of Wenzhou city there in 2003, while Xi Jinping – now president – was the affluent province’s party chief.

Both Xi and Liu were among top-ranked officials in Zhejiang, before Xi’s transfer to lead Shanghai in early 2007.