John Lee was elected as Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday, after winning more than 99 percent of the votes cast by a largely pro-Beijing election committee.
Lee received 1,416 votes in the chief executive election, much more than the 751 votes needed to win. About 1,500 members of the election committee voted in a secret ballot on Sunday morning.
“I want to build an open and vibrant Hong Kong, and a Hong Kong full of opportunities and harmony for all of us looking forward to starting a new chapter together,” Lee said in his winning speech.
Lee will replace current leader Carrie Lam on July 1.
As the sole candidate in the elections, Li was expected to win, especially since he had the support of Beijing and last month received 786 nominations from election committee members in support of his candidacy.
Lam congratulated Li in a statement and said she would hand the election results to Beijing.
“The current government and I will ensure a seamless transition with the chief executive-elect. We will provide all the support necessary to take office for the new term of government,” Lam’s statement said.
Only ‘patriots’ allowed
The election followed major changes to Hong Kong’s electoral laws last year to ensure that only “patriots” loyal to Beijing could hold office. The legislature was also reorganized for all but opposition voices to be eliminated.
Elaborate arrangements around a pre-determined outcome reflect Beijing’s desire for a veil of democracy. Although they would vote in a secret ballot, all voters in Hong Kong were carefully screened.
Without the opposition, Li would have an easier time governing Hong Kong than Lam, said Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Government and Public Administration.
‘Low checks and balances’
“One of the major reasons for easing good governance is that the electoral system has changed,” he said. “In the legislature and the election committee, there is almost no political opposition and the political spectrum is focused towards the pro-establishment camp.”
“Not being democratic would make it easier for the chief executive to govern because there are fewer checks and balances,” he said.
The Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong also congratulated Li in a statement, saying the election was conducted “in a fair, equitable and orderly manner in accordance with laws and regulations”.
“Li received several nominations and was elected with a high number of 1,416 votes. This is not only a serious choice of the election committee, but also a strong expression of public opinion,” the statement said.
Mainland China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council also congratulated Li in a statement, saying the “successful election” proved that the city’s new electoral system was “good” and “one country, two systems”. conforms to the framework. Governed by Hong Kong.
The new chief executive officer will lead the Hong Kong government and “people from all walks of life to move forward in unity,” the statement said.
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The British ceded Hong Kong to mainland China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework, which promised the city some freedoms not found on the mainland, including freedom of speech and assembly.
Critics say these freedoms are being curtailed as Beijing has taken more control of the former British colony in recent years.
call for universal suffrage
On Sunday morning, three members of the League of Social Democrats, a local activist group, protested the election by attempting to march towards the election site displaying a banner demanding universal suffrage, which would appeal to the people of Hong Kong in the legislature and head of state. Will allow you to vote for both. executive.
“Human rights at power, people are bigger than the country,” the banner read. “One person, one vote for chief executive. Immediately implement double universal suffrage.”
A demonstrator was distributing passengers and surrounded the protesters and banners before the police arrived. Police also searched the protesters’ belongings and extracted their personal details, though no immediate arrests were made.
The pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong has long sought universal suffrage, which they say has been promised to the city in its short-lived constitution, the Basic Law. It was also a prominent demand in the Umbrella Revolution protests of 2014 and the anti-government protests of 2019.
As Hong Kong’s future leader, Li has expressed concern that Beijing may further tighten its grip on Hong Kong. He spent most of his civil service career in the police and security bureaus, and is a vocal and staunch supporter of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 aimed at quelling dissent.
Their rise came from massive anti-government protests in 2019 that turned into violent clashes. As Secretary of Security, he oversaw the police operation to confront the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, then rounded up several of them to arrest them later.
security law arrested
More than 150 people have been arrested under the Security Act, which prevents secession, sabotage, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs. Almost all prominent pro-democracy activists have been imprisoned, while others have fled abroad or have been threatened to keep quiet.
Thousands of residents have left the city of 7.4 million people amid the 2019 protests and subsequent harsh pandemic restrictions, including many professionals and migrants.
In his election campaign in the weeks before Sunday’s elections, Lee promised long-pending local legislation to protect against security threats and vowed to increase the supply of housing in the world’s most expensive real estate market.
He also said that he would improve the city’s competitiveness and lay a strong foundation for Hong Kong’s development.