Hong Kong’s new leader heads to Beijing for official endorsement | Political news
Former security chief John Lee is due to take office on July 1, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
Hong Kong’s next leader, John Lee, is on a visit to Beijing, where he is expected to get the official green light from the central government before officially taking office in a month.
Lee, 64, a former police officer and security chief who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy movement, was chosen as the next chief executive by a select group of Beijing loyalists earlier this month.
He was the only candidate in the race and won 99% of the vote, after China changed Hong Kong’s electoral system to exclude anyone deemed “unpatriotic”.
As part of a four-day trip, which began on Saturday, Lee is expected to receive his formal appointment letter from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and meet with key Chinese leaders, local media said.
The South China Morning Post reported earlier that Lee will meet with President Xi Jinping and present a list of his team for approval. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said Finance Secretary Paul Chan and Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng were “highly likely” to stay on as senior officials.
The new chief executive will have to undergo testing and quarantine over the weekend, and will not be able to meet strangers during his trip, according to the report.
Lee will take office on July 1, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer from British to Chinese rule and halfway through the so-called “one country, two systems” framework that was supposed to protect freedoms and the way to Hong Kong. life for at least 50 years.
It is not yet confirmed whether Xi will travel to Hong Kong for the celebrations.
Such a trip would mark the first time Xi has traveled outside the Chinese mainland since the start of the pandemic.
In July 2017, Xi attended the swearing-in of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam as part of a three-day trip, which also included a visit to the local Chinese army barracks.
But the protests that accompanied that trip are unlikely to be repeated this year, as a national security law imposed by Beijing has effectively stifled any criticism or dissent.
More than 10,000 police will be deployed in case a Chinese leader visits Hong Kong, local magazine Eastweek reported.
Local authorities are also finding ways to protect Xi from the risk of coronavirus infection, as Hong Kong and China remain committed to a zero-COVID strategy.
Xi can opt for a day trip or drop the tour altogether if new coronavirus outbreaks emerge, according to the Wall Street Journal.