Next year is the year of the 20th Communist Party Congress, and also the year of personnel restructuring, it is worth watching how the personnel layout of the Hong Kong and Macau system will change. Han Zheng, Luo Huining and many other officials will be at retirement age, and the change is bound to lead to speculation.
According to a March 31 op-ed in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, the leadership of the CPC Central Leading Group on Hong Kong and Macau is generally older. Even with the customary “seven (67) on eight (68) off” for senior officials above the vice-state level, they have reached the age of retirement.
As for the directors of the Liaison Office in Hong Kong and Macau, Luo Huining will be 68 years old and Fu Ziyin will be 65, both reaching the retirement age of 65 at the full ministerial level.
Among the other deputy directors and party members of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, Song Zhe is 62 and Deng Zhonghua is 61, both past the 60-year retirement age for deputy ministry officials.
According to the article, these officials may not necessarily retire at or beyond their age, and some may extend their terms for two more years to continue the current policy. But after all, they are old, so their retirement is a probable event.
In 2019, Hong Kong was shocked by the outbreak of the “anti-China” movement, which lasted for the longest Time and was the largest in scale, the most ever by Hong Kong people against the tyranny of the Chinese Communist Party. The then director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Wang Zhimin, and the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Zhang Xiaoming, were both accused of being part of Jiang’s Zeng Qinghong’s team and suspected of being involved in Jiang’s stirring up trouble in Hong Kong.
In early 2020, after more than half a year of “anti-China” campaign in Hong Kong, Wang Zhimin was suddenly replaced by Luo Huining, who had already retired to the second line and had never been involved in Hong Kong and Macau affairs.
Luo’s background is quite complex in the fiercely contested Chinese Communist Party officialdom, and he is suspected to have ties with various factions.
In February of the same year, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, was demoted to executive deputy director of the office, with Xi Jinping‘s former “deputy” and then vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Xia Baolong, taking over the post.
According to some political observers, Luo Huining’s replacement of Wang Zhimin is a rare personnel change, highlighting the fact that there is almost no one else available at the top of the Communist Party, and it may be a product of the struggle between various factions of the Communist Party.
According to political commentator Shi Shih, Luo Huining will only play a transitional role and will probably be replaced by 2022 at the latest.
According to political commentator Li Linyi, Beijing‘s move of Luo Huining, who has no experience in Hong Kong and Macau, to the Hong Kong and Macau system is an attempt to break up the system held by Zeng Qinghong, and may even start a liquidation of Zeng’s turf in the future.
Alex Payette, an expert on Chinese Communist Party history at the University of Toronto, agrees that Luo is merely a “transitional figure”.