In his first ever speech to the city, Ding expressed support for maintaining Hong Kong’s unique status and praised the city’s work related to the belt and road. He was the most senior Beijing leader to speak at the event.
Ding was made executive vice-premier in March following the party’s twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle.
At the annual session of China’s parliament in March, Beijing revealed its plan to restructure its top office overseeing Hong Kong and Macau affairs amid growing national security concerns and heightened geopolitical tensions. The office is headed by Xia Baolong and now answers directly to the party rather than the State Council, China’s cabinet.
His high-profile presence at the Hong Kong summit was the clearest sign yet that he is the top leader in charge of the party’s Central Leading Group on Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, the de facto highest decision-making body for the two special administrative regions.
Following the parliamentary session in March, the new Hong Kong and Macau Work Office of the Communist Party Central Committee, formed through an expansion of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, functions as a secretariat to carry out decisions made by Ding’s leading group.
Before being named Xi’s chief of staff in 2017, Ding spent two decades in various positions overseeing party affairs in Shanghai and Beijing.