China has appointed a new envoy to Hong Kong in a sign of Beijing’s growing frustration at the ongoing protests in the financial hub.
Luo Huining, a previous governor of Qinghai province, has replaced the previous head of the liaison office, the Chinese government’s most important office in the special administrative region.
In his first statement since taking the role, Huining said: “In the past six months, Hong Kong’s situation has made everybody’s heart wrench. Everyone earnestly hopes that [it] can return to the right path.”
The city’s leader Carrie Lam echoed Huining’s words in a press conference, saying that she would “work closely with director Luo in the coming future… for Hong Kong to return to the right path.”
Huining’s predecessor, Wang Zhimin, had previously come under fire for failing to anticipate public opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Since June last year, the city has been rocked by continual protests over the bill.
Despite its withdrawal, protests have evolved into a broad campaign for democratic freedoms and calls for an inquiry into complaints of police brutality.
Over 6,500 protesters have been arrested in street battles with riot police.
The protest movement is supported by 59 per cent of city residents polled in a survey conducted for Reuters by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute and 57 per cent want Lam to resign.