HONG KONG (Reuters) – China sent an extra 100 cadres to work in its top Hong Kong office in the past year to make sure the city was ruled by patriots, the South China Morning Post said on Friday.
Beijing has imposed a tighter grip on the Asian financial hub in the past year, imposing new security laws and arresting political opponents.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, said the Hong Kong Liaison Office’s expanded responsibilities included tighter supervision and policy implementation in the semiautonomous city.
The new cadres were also tasked with helping contain the coronavirus, build bridges with young people who have shown their anger towards Beijing in often-violent 2019 protests and to identify long-term governance challenges, the report said.
One mainland China source cited in the report said about 200 new cadres were transferred in the past year, partly to replace others in jobs on rotation. That resulted in a net increase of 100 staff. The total staff numbers remain unknown.
Many of the new arrivals had been selected for their skills in areas such as social media and because they were “ready to start afresh” in Hong Kong, the source told the paper.
A second source close to the Liaison Office told the paper the cadres had all attended briefings, including on disciplinary issues, in the neighbouring mainland tech hub of Shenzhen before they arrived in Hong Kong.
“The disciplinary reminder is important because the liaison office now promotes a down-to-earth working style and following (Communist Party discipline) is a top priority,” the source was quoted as saying.
They were also vaccinated against COVID-19 while in Shenzhen.
China has signaled a more hands-on approach on Hong Kong affairs early last year when it replaced the heads of the Liaison Office in the city and of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on the mainland.
Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Michael Perry