On Sunday, Hong Kong’s not too long ago reorganized Electoral Committee chosen John Lee to be the subsequent Chief Govt of Hong Kong, a place that he’ll take over from present Chief Govt Carrie Lam on July 1, the twenty fifth anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from Britain to China. Operating unopposed and chosen by a bunch of “patriots” representing lower than 0.02 p.c of the territory’s inhabitants, Lee strolled via an election that landed removed from the Primary Regulation’s said purpose of finally deciding the Chief Govt by way of common suffrage. The number of Lee, a former safety secretary and deputy commissioner of police with over three a long time of expertise in legislation enforcement, alerts a good stronger concentrate on nationwide safety for the nominally semi-autonomous territory whose political freedoms have been gutted by the Nationwide Safety Regulation. The Hong Kong Free Press described a straightforward victory for John Lee, who confronted nearly no opposition and who vetted the very electors that voted for him:
Lee obtained 1,416 votes in help and eight “not help” votes from the newly-revamped Election Committee.
The committee – who have been vetted by Lee himself final yr – gathered on Sunday to forged their ballots within the small-circle race at Wan Chai’s Conference and Exhibition Centre. 1,428 members of the 1,461-strong committee had forged a poll by the point polls closed at 11:30a.m. – representing a turnout price of 97.74 per cent.
[…] The small-circle chief government election is the primary for the reason that central authorities ordered an electoral overhaul – encompassing the highest management race and the Legislative Council vote – to make sure solely these exhibiting patriotism to Hong Kong and China might run. Below the modifications, chief government hopefuls should be verified by the Candidate Eligibility Overview Committee, which was helmed by Lee because the chief secretary.
The overhaul noticed the illustration of historically pro-democracy sectors – similar to training, I.T. and the authorized sector – diminished, while district councillors – nearly solely pro-democracy – have been excluded solely. Most opposition figures stay behind bars, in self-exile overseas, or have stop politics following the onset of the nationwide safety legislation. [Source]
— Jarrod Watt (@Jay_Watt) May 9, 2022
Whereas the opposition was excluded from the election, as Vincent Ni from The Guardian reported, it was nonetheless represented by a small group that protested Lee’s election on Sunday:
Regardless of the dangers, the League of Social Democrats – one of many solely remaining pro-democracy teams – held a three-person protest earlier than the polls opened Sunday, chanting: “Energy to the folks, common suffrage now.”
“That is what John Lee’s new chapter appears to be like like – a shrinking of our civil liberties,” mentioned protester Vanessa Chan as dozens of law enforcement officials seemed on. “We all know this motion can have no impact, however we don’t need Hong Kong to be utterly silent.” [Source]
Different pro-democracy voices criticized Lee’s choice. Kenneth Chan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist College, instructed DW that Lee is a “powerful man and a legislation enforcer that might not wish to hearken to different’s views, be accommodating, or be measured.” Nathan Regulation, an activist and former member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, instructed the BBC that below Lee’s “hawkish” tenure, “the town will solely develop increasingly more authoritarian.” Samuel Chu, founding father of the Marketing campaign for Hong Kong, said: “Lee is a puppet elected via a sham course of who will face no political opposition, no impartial and free press, and no freedom of speech, meeting, or expression. Right this moment, John Lee gained and the folks of Hong Kong misplaced.” At Vice, Rachel Cheung described different criticisms of Lee and the undemocratic election course of:
“Beijing clearly doesn’t trouble to faux that that is an election in any sense of the phrase,” Steve Tsang, director of SOAS College of London’s China Institute, instructed VICE World Information.
[…] “Lee has no expertise in all crucial coverage areas, similar to financial system, finance and international commerce, or fields similar to social welfare, housing, training, healthcare and labour. He has solely been a cop,” mentioned Chung Kim-wah, the previous deputy head of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Analysis Institute. “My worry is that below his rule, issues will go unsuitable in each side of Hong Kong.”
“Selecting Lee as chief government reveals Beijing doesn’t thoughts selecting a very incapable individual to do nothing however perform its will,” Chung mentioned.
[…] Chris Fraser, the previous chair of the philosophy division on the College of Hong Kong, mentioned the election was “merely an elaborate public affirmation ceremony for a preordained appointee.” [Source]
Hong Kong’s inhabitants: 7.5 million
Quantity who voted for John Lee: 1,416 pic.twitter.com/T8A6qi2ddE
— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) May 9, 2022
The world sees no loud objection within the grassroot neighborhood, solely large celebrations amongst ‘high-ranking’ stakeholders who can solely vote “help” or “not help” on the one candidate, #JohnLee. Now they even hv the audacity to say he’s probably the most acknowledged candidate in historical past.
— Frances Hui 許穎婷 (@frances_hui) May 9, 2022
What number of Hong Kongers does it take to decide on their subsequent chief?
— Samuel Chu 朱牧民 (@samuelmchu) May 8, 2022
“Chosen by a small group of hand-picked and thoroughly screened elites, John Lee’s ascendency as Chief Govt is much from the democratic course of by common suffrage China beforehand promised to help when Hong Kong was handed over to its management.” @benedictrogers
— Hong Kong Watch (@hk_watch) May 9, 2022
Reactions from overseas have been equally harsh. Because the Related Press reported, the EU and its allies referred to as the choice course of an “appointment” that violates democratic ideas and erodes political rights:
The international ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.Okay. and the U.S. — referred to as the choice course of “a part of a continued assault on political pluralism and basic freedoms.”
“The present nomination course of and ensuing appointment … additional erode the power of Hong Kongers to be legitimately represented. We’re deeply involved about this regular erosion of political and civil rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy,” they mentioned in a joint assertion.
[…] In Beijing, International Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian fired again at criticism of the election from the European Union, whose international coverage chief, Josep Borrell, mentioned Lee’s choice “violates democratic ideas and political pluralism in Hong Kong.” Borrell mentioned the election furthered the dismantling of the “one nation, two techniques” precept below which Hong Kong was presupposed to retain its personal political, authorized and financial system for 50 years after the tip of British rule. [Source]
— Miriam M. Lexmann (@MiriamMLex) May 8, 2022
Lee’s farce election is an extra insult to the folks of Hong Kong.
IPAC requires sanctions on Lee and all others who’ve denied the freedoms promised to Hong Kong below worldwide legislation. pic.twitter.com/2ptIQGzuGX
— Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (@ipacglobal) May 9, 2022
Mainland Chinese language and pro-Beijing authorities officers and state media, alternatively, had solely reward for the choice course of and the victorious candidate, as Finbarr Bermingham reported for the South China Morning Publish:
The [EU] assertion was met with fury by the Commissioner’s Workplace of the Ministry of International Affairs in Hong Kong, which demanded that the EU “instantly cease meddling in Hong Kong affairs”.
In keeping with a spokesperson from the workplace, the election superior the precept of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” and “demonstrated the progress and superiority of the brand new electoral system”.
Beijing’s liaison workplace in Hong Kong hailed the election as “one other profitable step in creating democracy with Hong Kong traits”.
In a 5,000-word article, the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Workplace praised the election for its orderliness and recommended Lee as a superb chief for the town.
“The chief government election was held easily right now, and Lee was elected with a excessive variety of votes. We congratulate him,” it mentioned. [Source]
Most headlines right now alongside the strains of: John Lee obtained 1416 votes, successful with 99% of vote to steer HK in a brand new chapter.
Sing Tao: John Lee elected by overwhelming majority, breaking two new data for the CE election.
I can really feel press freedom in my pocket, like a HKID. pic.twitter.com/5GfiwQJuuT
— Okay Tse (@ktse852) May 9, 2022
— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) May 9, 2022
Lee made his priorities clear for his five-year tenure in workplace: “Safeguarding our nation’s sovereignty, nationwide safety and growth pursuits, and defending Hong Kong from inner and exterior threats, and making certain its stability will proceed to be of paramount significance.” In his 44-page coverage manifesto, launched solely 9 days earlier than the election, he mentioned that a serious precedence can be to enact Article 23 of the Primary Regulation, stipulating that Hong Kong ought to create its personal legal guidelines, along with the Nationwide Safety Regulation that was imposed by Beijing, in an effort to prohibit acts of treason, secession, sedition, or subversion. Writing for International Coverage in Focus, Human Rights Watch’s senior China researcher Maya Wang outlined Lee’s historical past of prioritizing safety on the expense of residents’ rights and security:
As Hong Kong’s secretary for safety — and subsequently one in all Beijing’s right-hand males in Hong Kong — throughout the 2019 protests in opposition to an extradition invoice, Lee confirmed blatant disregard for folks’s security. After the police assaulted peaceable protesters on June 12, Lee claimed, opposite to what thousands and thousands of Hong Kong folks noticed on dwell TV, that the police had been “tolerant,” and that it was the protesters who had “violently” attacked the police to the purpose of “threatening…[their lives].”
Lee has repeatedly shielded the police from accountability. Concerning public requires an impartial investigation into police brutality, he maintained that the prevailing complaints mechanism — one that’s a part of the Police Power — is sufficient. As to why the elite police unit whose members had administered the worst beatings to protesters appeared to have eliminated their badge numbers to evade identification, Lee claimed that there was merely “no house on their uniform.”
[…] Chillingly, Lee is well-known for having praised Beijing’s extreme abuses in Xinjiang in opposition to the Uyghurs and different Turkic Muslims below the guise of countering terrorism — which Human Rights Watch discovered amounted to crimes in opposition to humanity. In keeping with Lee, these abusive insurance policies are “worthy of consideration” for Hong Kong as the town faces a “rising” risk of “home terrorism.” [Source]
In August 2020, the U.S. imposed sanctions in opposition to Lee for his function in executing Hong Kong’s Nationwide Safety Regulation. A number of weeks in the past, YouTube closed his marketing campaign account in an effort to adjust to these sanctions, drawing criticism from Lee and Chinese language officers. Some argue that Beijing’s backing of Lee, regardless of American sanctions, is a strategy to sign disregard for U.S. makes an attempt to stress Hong Kong authorities officers and to reaffirm unity between Hong Kong and Beijing. Though Lee insists that he labored exhausting to win his new place, Austin Ramzy and Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Instances famous that “Mr. Lee is now Beijing’s man, a security-minded official who could be relied on to observe orders and maintain Hong Kong in line.”