China: John Lee new head of government in Hong Kong

Status: 08/05/2022 10:04 a.m.

Former security chief John Lee has been named Hong Kong’s new head of government. The roughly 1,500 members of the Beijing-linked election committee voted as expected.

Hong Kong’s former security minister John Lee has been elected prime minister of the special administrative region of China. Lee won 1,416 out of 1,424 votes in the pro-Beijing electorate. He is to succeed Carrie Lam on July 1, she is not seeking a second term and she wants to retire on June 30.

Lee’s choice was considered safe. He was the only candidate, supported by the communist leadership in Beijing and nominated by 786 voters. The 64-year-old is considered a political hardliner and known for his absolute loyalty to the Chinese central government. Since last year, according to election law, only “patriots” – that is, citizens loyal to Beijing – are allowed to hold public office in Hong Kong. Democracy activists have criticized this and have been calling for direct elections for the head of government and parliament for years.

Police officer, Minister of Security, Chief Government Secretary

Pundits have seen Lee’s election as a signal that the communist leadership in Beijing wants to continue to wield influence in the former British crown colony. Lee’s career began as a police officer, before becoming security secretary in 2017 and chief government secretary last summer. During the election campaign, he promised laws to protect against security threats, greater housing supply and improved Hong Kong competitiveness.

Lee was a key figure behind the controversial 2019 bill that would see Hong Kong suspects deported to China. He was also responsible for police operations against thousands of demonstrators who had been protesting the law for months.

Many arrests of democracy activists

Lee also campaigned for the National Security Act, whose clauses against collusion with foreign forces have been used since 2020 to restrict democracy activists and the media, as well as the civil liberties promised in Hong’s handover. Kong to China. Dozens of people have already been arrested under the law.

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