HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s former No. 2 official John Lee on Saturday formally declared his candidacy for the upcoming management election, coming into the race for chief government seen by many as Beijing’s most popular candidate.
Lee mentioned at a web based information convention that he would stand for the election on May 8 after the Chinese authorities accepted his resignation, which he submitted final week, as town’s chief secretary for administration.
He mentioned a brand new authorities underneath his management would safeguard the rule of regulation and the “one country, two systems” framework within the metropolis that permits Hong Kong to control semi-autonomously and luxuriate in sure freedoms not present in mainland China.
“This decision is made out of my loyalty to my country, my love for Hong Kong, and my sense of duty to the Hong Kong people,” Lee mentioned.
Lee’s candidacy comes after present chief Carrie Lam introduced she wouldn’t run for a second time period, following a rocky 5 years in energy that spanned the COVID-19 pandemic, a crackdown on political freedoms and Beijing’s speedy and rising affect over the territory.
Lee, 64, is a staunch advocate of town’s nationwide safety regulation, which has been used since 2020 to focus on pro-democracy activists, supporters and media, diminishing freedoms promised to Hong Kong throughout Britain’s handover to China in 1997.
Experts within the metropolis see a possible administration underneath Lee as a sign that Beijing might additional tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous Chinese metropolis.
The chief government shall be voted in by an election committee of about 1,500 individuals, a majority of whom are pro-Beijing. The new chief will take workplace on July 1.
Lee spent the early years of his civil service profession as a police officer and steadily climbed the ranks. He grew to become Hong Kong’s safety minister in July 2017 underneath Lam’s administration, and final June was promoted to chief secretary for administration.
Lee was a key determine in proposing contentious laws in 2019 that might have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. He later oversaw a police crackdown on demonstrators after the proposed invoice sparked months of large anti-government protests in 2019.
After the protests have been snuffed out, Lee was an outspoken supporter of the nationwide safety regulation imposed on town, which outlaws subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with international forces within the metropolis’s affairs and has been used to suppress dissent. Over 150 individuals have been arrested for the reason that regulation was carried out.
In 2020, the U.S sanctioned Lee, along with Lam and different Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities officers, for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly.”
Next month’s election would be the first since Hong Kong’s electoral legal guidelines have been amended final 12 months to make sure that solely “patriots” loyal to Beijing can maintain workplace. The modifications make it troublesome for pro-democracy supporters to run for chief government.
Hong Kong’s chief is chosen each 5 years, though the choice course of is rigorously orchestrated behind the scenes by Beijing. The 4 chief executives chosen since Hong Kong’s handover have all been candidates seen as favored by Beijing.
Lee mentioned he would focus policymaking on guaranteeing that Hong Kong stays aggressive globally and “bolster its role as a gateway and bridge between our country and the world.”