China analyst Mark O'Neill said on Saturday that the removal of Wang Zhimin as director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong should come as no surprise, as he had failed to paint an accurate picture of the situation in the SAR to his bosses.
"[Wang] did not inform Beijing correctly what was going on here. He misled them [the Central Government] and made them think that the protests here had only minority support, that the violence had minority support, and that the pro-government parties would win the district council elections," O'Neill said.
"We were expecting Mr Wang to lose his position for several weeks, if not months."
O'Neill noted that Wang is the first official in charge of Hong Kong affairs that has been relieved of their duties since the protests erupted in June last year.
"It tells us what Xi Jinping is thinking and what sort of change he has in mind. I think it is a very significant moment," he said.
Wang is being replaced by Luo Huining, 65, who just a week ago had been made a deputy head of the National People's Congress Financial and Economic Affairs Committee.
In a post on Twitter, the mainland's Global Times described Luo as "politically mature" and said the appointment of an official with no Hong Kong-related experience "shows the central government's determination to usher in a new period for Hong Kong".