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Wang Zhimin addresses a symposium to mark China's sixth Constitution Day, Dec. 4, 2019. Photo: Liu Siuwai/Xinhua via Getty

The Chinese government replaced its top Hong Kong representative on Saturday with a senior Communist Party official known for bringing party discipline to unruly provinces, the New York Times reports, citing the state-run Xinhua news service.

Why it matters: After seven months of often violent pro-democracy protests, Beijing decided to make a change in personnel to a role that operates mainly through behind-the-scenes influence. But the selection of Luo Huining as top representative likely indicates not a softening of Beijing's position toward Hong Kongers' demands, but rather a further entrenchment of its hardline approach.

  • This swap makes former Central Liaison Office head Wang Zhimin the first senior official to lose his title after the protests, per NYT.
  • Luo has served as the Communist Party secretary in two provinces.
  • China said it would introduce steps to "safeguard national security" in Hong Kong in November, but did not provide specifics.

Between the lines: Wang "made no move to stop scheduled elections for neighborhood district councils in November, in the mistaken confidence that pro-Beijing candidates would maintain their longstanding dominance," per the Times.

Our thought bubble: The Chinese Communist Party's mismanagement of Hong Kong has plunged it into a months-long political crisis, as massive protests have torn apart the city's social fabric and crippled its economy.

  • It's clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping has drawn a hard line, refusing to meet protester's demands for police accountability and the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
  • This swap could be the latest step toward the "mainlandization" of a Chinese city that has traditionally enjoyed far greater political and civil freedoms than its mainland counterparts.

Go deeper: Trump signs bill expressing support for Hong Kong protesters

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to a report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.