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What next when John Lee leads Hong Kong?

HONG KONG – There was little doubt about the choice of John Lee as Hong Kong’s next leader.

The city’s former security chief received more than 99% of the vote from a committee composed mostly of pro-Beijing members. He was the only candidate in Sunday’s vote.

On July 1, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China in 1997, Lee takes over from Carrie Lam as chief executive of the semi-autonomous territory. She is leaving after five tumultuous years, spanning pro-democracy protests in 2019, a subsequent crackdown that virtually wiped out dissent, and Hong Kong’s worst coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 9,000 people that year.

WHO IS JOHN LEE?

Lee, 64, spent more than three decades in the police force before being appointed undersecretary of the Hong Kong Security Bureau in 2012. In 2017, he was promoted to Minister of Security in Lam’s government. He was a key figure in pushing for a proposed extradition bill in 2019 that would have sent Hong Kong suspects to mainland China, where courts operate under the ruling Communist Party.

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But the bill sparked massive anti-government protests over fears Beijing would encroach on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and soon morphed into calls for broader democratic rights, including universal suffrage. The government backtracked on the bill, but under Lee, police unleashed a violent response that included the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters and mass arrests.

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

In the same year, Lee and other Chinese as well as Hong Kong officials, including Lam, were sanctioned by the US “for complicity in the coercion, arrest, detention or detention of persons under the authority of the National Security Law and for its development, implementation or implementation.”

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In June 2021, Lee was promoted to Chief Secretary for Administration, effectively becoming the second most senior civil servant in Hong Kong.

He resigned from his post in April to run for the leadership election. During his campaign, YouTube terminated Lee’s channel in accordance with US sanctions – a move Lee called “bullying” and “inappropriate.”

WHAT DOES HIS CHOICE MEAN FOR HONG KONG?

Experts have said Beijing’s endorsement of Lee signals the central government is looking for someone reliable to ensure its authority in Hong Kong is never challenged again.

The city was promised freedoms not found in mainland China when the British handed them over in 1997. But such Western-style freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, have been severely undermined by the implementation of the National Security Law. Over 150 people, most of them pro-democracy supporters, have been arrested and many others have fled abroad or remain silent.

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Lee has also pledged to enact a local security threat protection law known as Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law. Previous attempts to pass the law have met with strong local opposition. Article 23 stipulates that the city shall enact its own laws to prohibit “every act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion of the Central People’s Government” and “theft of state secrets.”

HOW HAS THE ELECTION PROCESS CHANGED?

This year’s Hong Kong leader election is the first since the electoral system was changed last year to ensure only “patriots” could run for office.

The crackdown on dissent, coupled with electoral reform, all but eliminates pro-democracy candidates for the legislature or the top job. Under the new system, candidates must be screened by a committee that determines whether they are suitable or patriotic enough.

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Under the new election rules, Lee was the only candidate supported by Beijing. Several people, including a film producer, had expressed interest in running but did not submit their names during the nomination process.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/05/09/explainer-what-comes-next-with-john-lee-leading-hong-kong/ What next when John Lee leads Hong Kong?

Joel McCord

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