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Beijing is cheering the election of a China loyalist as Hong Kong’s next leader, heralding the start of a ‘democracy with Hong Kong characteristics’

Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect John Lee Ka-chiu waves on stage after being elected at the Exhibition and Convention Centre on May 08, 2022 in Hong Kong, China.
John Lee, a 64-year- old former police officer, secured 99.4 percent of the votes cast by members of Hong Kong’s Election Committee.

  • John Lee, a hardline Chinese loyalist, has won Hong Kong’s election.
  • Lee led the charge in cracking down on the city’s pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.
  • Beijing’s office in Hong Kong hailed Lee’s election as a step forward for “patriots.”

Beijing is cheering the election of John Lee, a pro-China loyalist set to take over current Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Lee, 64, was elected on Sunday with 99.2% of the vote from the election committee — a group of elite Hongkongers with the power to decide the city’s future leader.

The committee is overwhelmingly controlled by China-friendly parties, particularly after a sweeping overhaul of the city’s electoral system in December that led to the installation of pro-Beijing “patriots” in Hong Kong’s governmental posts. 

Beijing’s office in Hong Kong said Lee’s election showed the “superiority” of the electoral overhaul and called his appointment the “embodiment of the people’s opinion,” per a statement seen by the Hong Kong Free Press

“This election is another step in the execution of the principle of ‘patriots governing Hong Kong,’ and showed the advancement and superiority of the new electoral system, and another successful implementation in the development of democracy with Hong Kong characteristics,” read the statement. 

Lee was essentially running in a one-horse race to replace current Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 1. He will serve a five-year term until June 30, 2027.

However, Lee is not entirely popular in the city he’s set to lead, scoring just 34.8 points out of 100 in a recent popularity survey.

A former police officer who became Hong Kong’s security chief, Lee helped push for the city’s controversial extradition bill that aimed to facilitate the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China to face trial, per the BBC.

As security chief, Lee was also responsible for the crackdown on the city’s residents during the island’s pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020. During the unrest, water cannons, tear gas, and even live ammunition were used to disperse those demonstrating against the bill. 

The BBC reported that Lee had been called “Beijing’s Pikachu” by his critics — a play on his Chinese name, “Ka-Chiu” — to mock his association with the Chinese Communist Party. 

Lee is currently under sanctions by the US for being a key individual in charge of implementing a draconian national security law in Hong Kong that prosecutes those accused of colluding with foreign forces. Under the law, Hong Kong has convicted democracy protesters of terrorism, arrested teenagers, and banned pro-democracy candidates from standing for election

On August 7, 2020, the US Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against Lee, Lam, and other officials. The announcement said Lee was sanctioned for “being involved in coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the National Security Law, as well as being involved in its development, adoption, or implementation.” 

For his part, Lee has vowed to alleviate the city’s housing crisis, proposing two new task forces to develop private land and speed-run construction on homes for the island’s close to 7.5 million residents. In his victory speech after being appointed chief executive-elect, he also said he would undertake a “historic mission” to unite Hong Kong. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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