China: John Lee new head of government in Hong Kong

Status: 08.05.2022 2:32 p.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 due to succeed Carrie Lam on July 1, she is not seeking a second term and she wants to retire on June 30.

Former security chief John Lee is Hong Kong’s new prime minister

Daniel Satra, ARD Beijing, daily news at 1:45 p.m., May 8, 2022

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 started as a police officer, then in 2017 he became security secretary and last summer he served as chief government secretary. 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.

The EU deplores “the violation of democratic principles”

The EU criticized the electoral process in Hong Kong. Lee’s appointment “violates democratic principles and political pluralism” in Hong Kong, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter. The selection process is a “further step towards the abolition of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”. He urged the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong to respect their national and international commitments.

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