Even a rare election in which fewer than 1,500 people voted for a single candidate has not deprived Hong Kong of the paraphernalia of an appointment disguised as an election. John Lee is from today the new chief executive; the fifth in the history of a territory increasingly indistinguishable, in form as well as substance, from the rest of China.
Lee has garnered 1,416 votes in favor and just 8 against among the delegates of the Electoral Committee, body in charge of the designation and under the control of pro-Chinese sectors. A support of 99.4 percent which is an unprecedented mark. Nothing could be further from the popular will: if the 7.4 million inhabitants of Hong Kong had a voice and a vote, the candidate would have had little chance.
According to the latest survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion, his approval rating stands at 34.8 percent.
A reality, however, that the Chinese Communist Party has ignored by celebrating the victory of its favorite. “The vast majority of Hong Kong residents are full of confidence and expectations, and believe that they can recruit talented politicians to form an Administration that governs resolutely and is capable of achieving its goals,” said the Hong Kong Affairs Office. and Macao of the Council of State this morning through an official statement.
Lee held the position of chief secretary – number two of the local Executive – after having been head of Security. As such had to deal with pro-democracy demonstrations that since the summer of 2019 they shook the territory; simplified task when their calls for help were heard in Beijing. From there, the Communist Party imposed a National Security Law in June 2020 that criminalized dissidence in Hong Kong, the beginning of the end of the rights and freedoms that differentiated the former colony from the rest of the continent. Lee was one of the politicians sanctioned by the United States, given his fundamental role in the process.
Security before everything
Lee’s election “indicates that Beijing’s top priority is maintaining political security,” noted a recent Eurasia report. This, who developed his professional career in the police, has confirmed the omens from his celebration speech. «I will protect Hong Kong from internal and external threats and I will ensure that its stability remains a central issue.” he has proclaimed this morning, shortly after knowing the result of the polls.
“He has little economic vision and will follow instructions from Beijing. (…) Hong Kong will cease to be a global financial center to play a more limited role as a gateway for capital for China, ”concluded the consultant’s text.
His first official trip as head of the Executive will take him, precisely, before his benefactors in Beijing, who will confirm his appointment throughout this month. Later, he will be sworn in: perhaps before Xi Jinping – like its predecessor, carrie lam– and maybe next July 1. This date coincides with the 25th anniversary of the return of sovereignty, the central point of the half century during which China had to respect the rights and freedoms of the territory. A process finalized 25 years in advance that Lee comes to ratify.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism