John Lee is Hong Kong's new leader: 'elected' with 99% of the vote
The former police chief was the sole candidate to replace the criticised Carrie Lam. Nominated by Beijing, he was voted in by a restricted election committee loyal to the central government. He promises to revive the city's financial role and solve the city's long-standing housing problem. He also announced a new law on national security.
Rome (AsiaNews) - The sole candidate in the election campaign for Hong Kong’s chief executive, John Lee has won 99% votes of the election committee comprised of 1500 members vetted by China’s central government on Sunday. John Lee, who started his career in the police force, is regarded as a loyal follower of Beijing and he got the unanimous agreement without doubt: only 8 members vetoed. According to the new election law of Hong Kong, the candidates running for the chief executive and legislation elections must be screened by the state security police.
The unanimous vote shows that Beijing’s mode has begun to dominate in Hong Kong and Beijing prioritizes the state security issues.
The security outside the venue was tight. Police deployed over 6000 police officers to guarantee the election going on smoothly. Meanwhile, police announced to dispatch of anti-terrorist forces and special forces to reinforce the security near the venue of the election and transportation hubs before the election.
64-year-old Lee has served in the Hong Kong Police Force for over 30 years since he graduated from high school. He was promoted to police chief. Last year he was nominated as Chief Secretary for Administration, the Number Two position just after chief executive. Lee was accused of cracking down on the protesters brutally in the waves of the anti-extradition law campaign since 2019. YouTube froze Lee’s channel before the election, as the sanction imposed by the US required.
State-run Xinhua News Agency released a comment soon after Lee announced his victory. The comment expected Lee’s team to maintain the severity and state security, as well as keep the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
Lee pledged to relaunch Hong Kong as an international financial hub and boost the city’s competitiveness. However, Lee has not raised concrete measures to attract foreign investments amid concerns about the impaired freedom under the national security law, as well as the zero-Covid policy proposed by Beijing.
Lee also said that he plans to restructure the government to bolster the policy-making and try to increase the housing supply in the city with the most expensive housing cost in the world.
Although Beijing has tailored the national security law in Hong Kong, Lee pledged to implement the legislation of Article 23 of Hong Kong Basic Law, which requires Hong Kong to make its law on national security. Security Bureau of Hong Kong said that they will add articles to curb espionage and the connection with foreign political organizations. The legislation of Article 23 of Hong Kong Basic Law has shelved after half a million people took to the street in 2003.