Will New Hong Kong Liason Create Greater Peace In China?

This past week, China’s Hong Kong liaison Wang Zhimin was removed from office and replaced by Luo Huining. The 65-year old Luo is a semi-retired leader in the Chinese Communist Party. This new role as liaison makes him the main point of contact between Beijing and Hong Kong. He replaced Wang after the former liaison did little to manage the rising tension between democratic Hong Kong and the Communist Party of China.

Although Wang’s work as liaison was considered inadequate by many, there have been promising messages regarding Luo’s promotion. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam predicts that Luo will contribute to a “positive development” between the city and the mainland. Though both Hong Kong and Beijing expressed disdain with Wang’s work, Luo himself has promised to break Wang’s trend. On Monday, his first day in this new position, Luo commented, “I will do my best in the job with sincere affection towards Hong Kong.” Though he himself is a member of the Communist Party, Luo has assured the democracy-seekers of Hong Kong that he can be trusted.

These auspicious messages indicate that Luo will bring an end to the violent discord in Hong Kong. However, since Luo has only been in office for one week, it is difficult to truly predict whether the violence in Hong Kong will finally cease. Luo is going to need to do more than make promises in order to establish regional peace. He will have to prove himself to both Beijing and Hong Kong in the coming weeks—a solution needs to be found that will satiate both groups. Certainly, this is a challenging task, but Hong Kong deserves an end to the disturbances that have racked its streets. As long as the tension between Hong Kong and Beijing lasts, peace and safety for Hong Kong will remain out of reach.

Luo’s replacing Wang is a result of months of violent protests in Hong Kong against the encroaching Communist Party. Although Hong Kong’s democratic rights are currently protected by the “one country, two systems” law, Beijing is attempting to slowly retract those rights and bring Hong Kong under communist rule. Hong Kong’s most recent concern is the extradition law Beijing is trying to place. Under this law, anyone in Hong Kong could be arrested and detained in mainland China, which puts democratic political activists at risk. This encroachment triggered violent protests in Hong Kong which have continued since June of last year. Footage of the events show civilians shattering windows, setting off grenades, lighting fires, and police officers using weapons against crowds. The week Wang was removed from office, police officers were reported as using tear gas to quell the rioting crowd. For the past six months, the citizens of Hong Kong have been put at risk by these terrorizing events.

There is much more to come for China, and Luo is now at center stage in this ongoing conflict. He will have to reach a compromise between the Communist Party of China and Democratic Hong Kong, meaning that neither party will be entirely satisfied with the outcome. Hong Kong might have to lose some of its rights, and Beijing might have to back off from the city. Nevertheless, there is certainly hope that Hong Kong will reach a state of serenity. Putting a new official in power is a step in the right direction towards peace. Luo seems intent on taking action which is certainly better than Wang’s neglect of the situation. In the coming weeks, it will become evident whether this action will create a long-deserved solution for the turmoil in Hong Kong.

Lily Gretz