Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam IANS

Amid the worsening chaos in Hong Kong, China is reportedly planning to remove chief executive Carrie Lam. Beijing will appoint an "interim" chief executive in Lam's place, UK's Financial Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Months-long pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong worsened over the last two weeks after pro-China Lam invoked invoked emergency laws to ban face masks. It was the first time in half a century that the emergency law was brought in, but Lam could not quell the protests.

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Lam's decision earlier this year to propose a bill that seeks extradition of suspects to other countries including mainland China triggered the mass protesters. Citizens of Hong Kong, which was a former British colony feared that the new law would completely alter the "one country, two systems" principle which ensured they enjoyed freedoms seldom seen in China.

The draft legislation has been suspended but the protests that began in mid-June have not subsided. The "one country, two systems" formula permits Hong Kong freedoms not available on the mainland such as an independent judiciary. Beijing, however, has rejected claims that it is undermining rights in Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after she swore her oath of office on the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2017. Reuters

Though China has decided to end the reign of Lam, it was unlikely to impose a leadership change immediately. Lam's successor would be appointed by next March and the new executive would cover the remainder of Lam's term, FT reported. Lam's regular term ends in 2022. China does not want to give the impression that it is yielding to the demands of the violent protesters by immediately removing Lam. On her part, Lam did not address any of the protesters' demands during her policy address last week.

Among people considered as Lam's successors are Norman Chan, a former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Henry Tang, who had served as the territory's financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, according to the Financial Times.