HONG KONG (Reuters) -China has appointed Zheng Yanxiong, head of the national security office in Hong Kong, as director of its Liaison Office in the city, the State Council, or cabinet, said in a notice on Saturday.

Zheng, who replaces Luo Huining, 68, as head of Beijing’s top representative office in Hong Kong, is among the Chinese and Hong Kong officials sanctioned by the United States after the city’s pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The 59-year-old Zheng came to prominence during a clampdown on land rights protests in a south Chinese village and was appointed in July 2020 director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security newly set up in Hong Kong.

The agency was established under a national security law China imposed that year on Hong Kong.

It prescribes terms of up to life in prison for crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

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Chinese and Hong Kong authorities say the law was needed to restore stability after the 2019 protests.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by William Mallard and Clarence Fernandez)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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