Beijing Loyalist John Lee Picked as Hong Kong’s Next Leader

Hong Kong’s leader-in-waiting, John Lee, has been endorsed for the city’s top job by a committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists as the financial hub continues its alignment with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership after several years of protests against Beijing’s political upheaval of the former British colony.Lee, the sole candidate, received the votes of 1,416 members of a pro-Beijing election committee on May 8, granting him the majority required to become Hong Kong’s next leader. Eight members of the committee voted to “not support” him. Speaking afterward, Lee said it was his “historic mission” to lead a new chapter for Hong Kong, while pledging to unite the city and preserve Hong Kong’s international status as an open and more competitive financial hub bridging China and the world. Few of the city’s 7.4 million people have any say in choosing their leader, even as communist China’s promises to one day grant full democracy to the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Security was tight around the venue, with police preventing a small group of protesters from approaching. “We believe we represent many Hong Kong people in expressing opposition to this China-style, single-candidate election,” said Chan Po-ying, a protester with the League of Social Democrats, holding up a banner demanding full democracy. Read MoreChina Says It Stands for ‘International Democracy’—What Does That Really Mean? Lee, a former Hong Kong secretary for security, has forcefully implemented the CCP’s national security law, which has been used to arrest scores of individuals who oppose the regime’s communist rule, disband civil society groups, and shutter liberal media outlets, such as Apple Daily and Stand News. Western governments, including the United States, say that freedoms and the rule of law have been undermined by the security legislation, which was imposed by Beijing in 2020. However, Lee reiterated Beijing’s view that the law is necessary to restore stability after protracted anti-CCP, pro-democracy protests in 2019, which were in response to the pro-Beijing government’s proposed extradition measure that would have allowed for residents to be sent to face trial in China’s politicized courts if accused of any crimes. Lee sidestepped questions on whether he would seek reconciliation with opposition democratic advocates and those who have been jailed. “Safeguarding our country’s sovereignty, national security, and development interests and protecting Hong Kong from internal and external threats, and ensuring its stability will continue to be of paramount importance,” Lee told reporters. Some critics say Lee’s attempts to relaunch Hong Kong internationally could be affected by sanctions imposed on him by the United States in 2020, over what Washington said was his role in “being involved in coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals” under the security law. YouTube owner Alphabet has said it took down the Lee campaign’s YouTube account to comply with U.S. sanctions laws. Lee said his priority would be to boost the housing supply in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets and to bolster policy effectiveness with a “results-orientated approach” to tackling this entrenched issue. Reuters contributed to this report. Follow

Beijing Loyalist John Lee Picked as Hong Kong’s Next Leader

Hong Kong’s leader-in-waiting, John Lee, has been endorsed for the city’s top job by a committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists as the financial hub continues its alignment with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership after several years of protests against Beijing’s political upheaval of the former British colony.

Lee, the sole candidate, received the votes of 1,416 members of a pro-Beijing election committee on May 8, granting him the majority required to become Hong Kong’s next leader. Eight members of the committee voted to “not support” him.

Speaking afterward, Lee said it was his “historic mission” to lead a new chapter for Hong Kong, while pledging to unite the city and preserve Hong Kong’s international status as an open and more competitive financial hub bridging China and the world.

Few of the city’s 7.4 million people have any say in choosing their leader, even as communist China’s promises to one day grant full democracy to the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Security was tight around the venue, with police preventing a small group of protesters from approaching.

“We believe we represent many Hong Kong people in expressing opposition to this China-style, single-candidate election,” said Chan Po-ying, a protester with the League of Social Democrats, holding up a banner demanding full democracy.

Lee, a former Hong Kong secretary for security, has forcefully implemented the CCP’s national security law, which has been used to arrest scores of individuals who oppose the regime’s communist rule, disband civil society groups, and shutter liberal media outlets, such as Apple Daily and Stand News.

Western governments, including the United States, say that freedoms and the rule of law have been undermined by the security legislation, which was imposed by Beijing in 2020.

However, Lee reiterated Beijing’s view that the law is necessary to restore stability after protracted anti-CCP, pro-democracy protests in 2019, which were in response to the pro-Beijing government’s proposed extradition measure that would have allowed for residents to be sent to face trial in China’s politicized courts if accused of any crimes.

Lee sidestepped questions on whether he would seek reconciliation with opposition democratic advocates and those who have been jailed.

“Safeguarding our country’s sovereignty, national security, and development interests and protecting Hong Kong from internal and external threats, and ensuring its stability will continue to be of paramount importance,” Lee told reporters.

Some critics say Lee’s attempts to relaunch Hong Kong internationally could be affected by sanctions imposed on him by the United States in 2020, over what Washington said was his role in “being involved in coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals” under the security law.

YouTube owner Alphabet has said it took down the Lee campaign’s YouTube account to comply with U.S. sanctions laws.

Lee said his priority would be to boost the housing supply in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets and to bolster policy effectiveness with a “results-orientated approach” to tackling this entrenched issue.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Web Staff

Follow

Colloquial Chinese (Colloquial Series)