Friday, March 31, 2023

Explainer: What comes next with John Lee leading Hong Kong?

HONG KONG ( Associated Press) — The election of John Lee as Hong Kong’s next chief executive has no doubt been in question.

A career police officer and the city’s security chief received more than 99% of the vote from an election committee consisting mostly of pro-Beijing members. He was the lone candidate in Sunday’s election.

On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from Britain to China, Lee would take control of the semi-autonomous region from Carrie Lam. She leaves in 2019 after five years of pro-democracy protests, a subsequent action that sparked nearly all dissent, and Hong Kong’s worst coronavirus outbreak that killed more than 9,000 people this year.

a Beijing loyalist

Li, 64, spent more than three decades of his civil service career in the police force before being appointed Under Secretary of Hong Kong’s Security Bureau in 2012. He was promoted to minister of security in Lam’s government in 2017. He was a key figure in pushing a proposed extradition bill in 2019 that would have sent Hong Kong suspects to mainland China, where the courts operate under the ruling Communist Party.

But the bill sparked massive anti-government protests that Beijing was encroaching on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and soon turned into calls for broader democratic rights, including universal suffrage. The government backtracked on the bill, but under Lee’s leadership, the police retaliated heavily, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters, as well as mass arrests.

The following year, in 2020, Beijing imposed a comprehensive national security law on Hong Kong, with Li as its main supporter and enforcer. The law, which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in the city’s affairs, was used to clear the streets of protesters, silence government opponents and crack down on freewheeling media.

In the same year, Hong Kong authorities including Li and other Chinese, as well as Lam, were asked “to engage in forcefully arresting, detaining or imprisoning persons under the authority of national security law” was approved by the US. its development, adoption or implementation.”

In June 2021, Lee was promoted to chief secretary of administration, effectively becoming the number 2 official in Hong Kong.

He resigned from his post in April to stand in the leadership election. During his election campaign, YouTube terminated Lee’s channel in compliance with US sanctions – a move that Lee described as “bullying” and “inappropriate”.

promises of tight security

Experts said Beijing’s backing of Li indicates that the central government is looking for a credible person to ensure that his authority in Hong Kong is never questioned again.

When the British handed it over in 1997, the city was promised independence not found in mainland China. But such Western-style freedoms, including freedom of the press and assembly, have been severely destroyed with the implementation of national security legislation. More than 150 people, most of whom were pro-democracy, have been arrested and many others have fled abroad or are silent.

Lee has also promised to enact a local law to protect against security threats, known as Article 23 of Hong Kong’s short-lived constitution, the Basic Law. Previous attempts to pass the bill have failed due to strong local opposition. Article 23 stipulates that the city shall enforce its own laws prohibiting “treason, secession, sedition, any act of subversion against the central people’s government” as well as “theft of state secrets”. .

How did the election process change?

This year’s vote is the first for Hong Kong’s chief executive since last year’s changes to the electoral system to ensure only “patriots” are allowed to run for office.

Acting on dissent, as with electoral reform, eliminates pro-democracy candidates for legislature or top office. Under the new system, candidates must be screened by a committee that determines whether they are suitable or patriotic.

Under the new electoral rules, Li was the only candidate to have the support of Beijing. Several people, including a filmmaker, had shown interest in running, but had not submitted their names during the nomination process.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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