A former top Chinese official in Hong Kong and Macau has been placed on probation for a year over a “severe violation” of party discipline.

Li Gang’s punishment was included in a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) work report, which was approved on Monday to be submitted to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party next week.

Li, 62, is the most senior former mainland official for Hong Kong affairs to be disciplined over a serious violation since the 1997  Handover.

Leung Chun-ying (left) and Li Gang (right). File Photo: GovHK.

Li was the former deputy director of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong between 2003 and 2012, the former deputy and director of Liaison Office in Macau between 2012 and 2016, and – since last year – was the deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. In August, he was stripped of the latter title.

Last month, he was order to resign from his position at the National People’s Congress. Probation is the most serious punishment after expulsion from the party. The CCDI did not elaborate on what his severe violation was.

During Li Gang’s tenure, he negotiated the 2010 political reform package with the Democratic Party inside the Liaison Office. Photo: Liaison Office Hong Kong.

Though Li may be able to regain his rights within the party, he cannot take official positions with an equal or higher rank for two years.

After he was sacked by the National People’s Congress in September, Apple Daily cited sources as saying that the punishment may be related to his tenure in Macau. Unnamed Beijing sources told the newspaper that former Macau chief executive Edmund Ho reported Li to Beijing, as Li unfairly accumulated wealth in selling his calligraphy to the tune of millions of dollars. They also alleged that Li personally profited from a Hengqin land rental deal made with Macau.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.