Monday, 13 May, 2024

Ex-security chief expects to become Hong Kong’s new leader



John Lee has promised to relaunch the Chinese special administrative region as an international city and bolster its competitiveness.

John Lee, former No. 2 official in Hong Kong, and the only candidate for the city's top job, attends his 2022 chief executive electoral campaign rally in Hong Kong, Friday, May 6, 2022.
John Lee, former No. 2 official in Hong Kong, and the only candidate for the city’s top job, attends his 2022 chief executive electoral campaign rally in Hong Kong, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP)

HongKong's leader-in-waiting, John Lee, is expected to be endorsed for the city's top job on Sunday by a committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists, as the financial hub attempts to relaunch itself after several years of political upheaval.

Some 1,500 members of a pro-Beijing election committee will cast their votes for Lee, the sole candidate, on Sunday morning at a harbourfront convention centre, with a simple majority required to anoint him as HongKong's next leader.

Few of the city's 7.4 million people have any say in choosing their leader, despite China's promises to one day grant full democracy to the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Lee, a former HongKongsecretary for security, has forcefully implemented China's harsher regime under a national security law that has been used to arrest scores of democrats, disband civil society groups and shutter liberal media outlets, such as Apple Daily and Stand News.

He has pledged to relaunch Hong Kong as an international city and bolster its competitiveness, amid concerns among some Western governments, including the United States, that freedoms and the rule of law have been undermined by the security legislation that was imposed by Beijing in 2020.

READ MORE: Hong Kong deputy chief resigns to run in May's leadership election

Accordance with law

Chinese authorities say the law is necessary to restore stability after protracted pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Some critics say Lee's attempts to relaunch HongKonginternationally could be affected by sanctions imposed on him by the United States in 2020 over what Washington said was his role in "being involved in coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals" under the security law.

YouTube owner Alphabet Inc has said it took down the Lee campaign's YouTube account to comply with US sanction laws.

Lee, who says enacting more national security laws for HongKongwill be a "priority" for him after taking office, has often said HongKongis a law-abiding society and that everyone must act in accordance with the law.

Among his other priorities as Hong Kong's leader, Lee has said he will restructure the government to bolster policy-making and try to boost housing supply in one of the world's most expensive housing markets.

READ MORE:Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to step down, won't seek second term

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