China is planning to replace Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam with an "interim" chief executive, the Financial Times reported, citing people briefed on the deliberations.
If Chinese President Xi Jinping decided to go ahead, Lam's successor would be appointed by March and cover the remainder of her term, which ends in 2022, the report said.
Lam's top successors include former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Norman Chan, and Henry Tang, who has also served as the territory's financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, the report said.
Sources told the FT that officials in China want a stabilized situation before a final decision can be made on leadership changes, as they do not want to be seen to be giving in to violence.
In September, in response to a Reuters report about a recording of Lam saying she would step down if she could, she said she had never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the Chinese-ruled city's political crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Hong Kong since mid-June in sometimes violent protests against now-suspended draft legislation that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party controlled courts.