Former assistant foreign minister Nong Rong appointed as deputy director of Beijing’s top office overseeing Hong Kong affairs

A new face has been added to Beijing’s top office overseeing Hong Kong affairs as the State Council has named former assistant minister of foreign affairs Nong Rong as the deputy director of the agency.

The appointment was announced on Friday, the second day of the Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Xia Baolong’s seven-day fact-finding trip in the city.

Nong, 56, who accompanied Xia during his Hong Kong visit, was seen sitting next to Zheng Yanxiong, the head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, during meetings with local officials.

The former assistant foreign minister previously served as the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan.

Xia kicked off his second day of the trip by having breakfast with members of the government’s top advisers from the Executive Council, the city’s key decision-making body, on Friday morning, before taking part in a two-hour closed-door meeting with Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, and the chairs and deputy chairs of the council’s panels.
Xia Baolong (centre) at the government headquarters in Admiralty on his second day of the fact-finding trip. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

“Xia once again conveyed the central government’s care and support for Hong Kong, while expressing his confidence in the city’s prospects,” Lee told reporters after the meeting.

Xia is expected to visit the International Organisation for Mediation Preparatory Office in Central in the afternoon to show Beijing’s support for the city to become an international mediation hub.

Top items in his itinerary for Friday include a three-hour exchange with local tycoons in the late afternoon to hear their presentations about Hong Kong’s economic prospects.

Xia arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday morning for the fact-finding visit. He said his mission was to work with the administration and all sectors of society to plan a “new stage of development” for the city, according to a statement from Beijing’s top office in the city.

Another key official who has joined Xia on the trip is Yang Xiaoshan, the head of the office’s legal bureau.

Beijing’s top official on Hong Kong on mission to plan ‘new stage of development’

It is believed that Yang is in the city to collect feedback on the proposed domestic national security legislation, known as Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

A one-month consultation exercise for the coming law is currently under way and will last until next Wednesday.

Xia on Thursday first visited the Integrated Airport Centre, launched last year to support the city’s three-runway system, along with Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu and Zheng Yanxiong, the head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city.

He then went to the government headquarters in Admiralty for two briefings from Lee and top officials in the afternoon.

Who is Xia Baolong and what is his fact-finding visit to Hong Kong about?

Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki said that Xia was also briefed about the city’s efforts to enact the home-grown security law in a meeting with top local officials, who received encouraging words and recognition for their work.

Chan said Xia’s seven-day itinerary – longer than any of his previous visits – reflected the ­central authorities’ care and ­support for Hong Kong, adding that “preferential” measures for the city would be unveiled “when appropriate”.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, who took part in a second briefing between Xia and officials that focused on the economy, technology, finance sector and housing policies, said the Beijing official had a thorough understanding of the city’s situation.

A welcome dinner for Xia was also held at Government House, the chief executive’s official residence.

Xia’s trip will conclude on Wednesday next week, the same day as Chan’s annual budget speech.


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