The former security chief, who oversees crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, will be named a new city leader on Sunday by a small committee of pro-Beijing supporters.
John Lee, 64, is the only candidate to replace Carrie Lam, the chief executive of the city, a business hub. It will be the first time a security official in the Hong Kong government has taken the lead after the upheaval in the pro-democracy movement and crackdown on epidemic control.
The incumbent is elected by an electoral committee made up of 1,463 people, equivalent to 0.02% of the population of 7.4 million residents. That committee, made up of political and business elite loyal to Beijing, began voting on Sunday morning.
Lee needs a simple majority to win. With no opponents, your victory is guaranteed. According to the local press, the police mobilized between 6,000 and 7,000 agents to guarantee the safety of the process.
Under President Xi Jinping, China sought to shed Hong Kong in its authoritarian image after the large and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests of 2019. Beijing enacted a comprehensive security law aimed at rooting out dissent, with a “patriot only” political system. To ensure that only those loyal to China hold high-ranking public office.
According to some sources, Li’s unwavering commitment to this line has allowed him to win the trust of China, at a time when others in Hong Kong were considered insufficiently loyal or capable.
Lee, who spent 35 years in the Hong Kong police force before joining the government, has inherited a city with many problems. The pro-democracy movement has been suppressed by the security law, while much of the population is angry with Beijing’s government and complains about the inequality in the city.
Hong Kong is also facing economic difficulties due to two years of heavy pandemic restrictions that have left it isolated from the rest of the world as the world reopens.
Under the motto of “starting a new chapter together for Hong Kong”, Li promised a government focused on results, building unity and reviving the local economy. The 44-page manifesto, presented last week, outlined some broad goals along with some concrete policy targets.
Li will take office on July 1, the 25th anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. He is one of 11 high-ranking officials in Hong Kong and Beijing sanctioned by the United States for political repression.
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