Beijing expands footprint in Hong Kong with new departments

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – China’s cabinet-level office overseeing Hong Kong has expanded by creating two departments to oversee propaganda and security affairs, local media reported, signalling Beijing’s growing footprint in the financial hub.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office’s new propaganda department will focus on communicating news, while managing journalists from the two special administrative regions based in the mainland, according to the agency’s website.

The second department will coordinate matters related to national security. The changes were added to an organisation summary on the Beijing-based office’s website on Thursday (Sept 24), according to local news outlets the South China Morning Post and Sing Tao.

Zeng Jian, 52, and Wang Zhenmin, 55, will head the propaganda and security departments, respectively, according to the publications, citing individuals familiar with the matter.

Both men have significant experience at the HKMAO and the Liaison Office, the central government’s top body located in the former British colony, the SCMP reported.

Beijing’s bolstering of the office from seven departments to nine comes as it steps up direct control of Hong Kong, following the often violent 2019 anti-government protests.

Since then, China has imposed a sweeping national security law on the city and implemented an electoral overall to ensure “patriots only” rule, which together have wiped opposition from the legislature and squeezed space for public dissent.

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