Hong Kong’s chief justice, Andrew Li, said Wednesday he will retire next August, three years ahead of schedule, to serve the best interests of the judiciary, and rejected rumors about political pressure from Beijing as “nonsense.”

Li, 60, the top judge since the former British colony’s handover to China in 1997, told reporters his early departure will be conducive to orderly succession planning in the judiciary when a handful of High Court judges will be retiring between 2011 and 2014.