John Lee set for Beijing approval as Hong Kong’s new leader

Hong Kong, May 27 (EFE).- Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee will fly to Beijing Saturday to receive a letter formally approving his appointment as the chief executive of the Asian financial city.

Lee, who won 99.2% of the vote in a small-circle election on May 8, is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, according to local media.

It will be Lee’s first official trip to the Chinese capital since he was selected as the new chief executive in the uncontested election. Only the 1,461 members of an election committee, all of whom have been vetted as Beijing loyalists, were eligible to vote. A total of 1,416 members voted for Lee.

At noon (GMT 04.00) on Friday, the Hong Kong government issued a press release saying Lee will receive an “instrument of appointment” as the sixth-term chief executive of Hong Kong. No mention was made of whom he will meet.

But the South China Morning Post quoted sources as saying the leader-in-waiting is expected to meet Xi and present a list of names of the finalists for his cabinet for Beijing’s approval. The meeting will be held under a “closed-loop management system” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Standard reported that during the three-day trip, Lee will also meet Xia Baolong, Beijing’s top official in charge of Hong Kong, to plan the start of his administration on July 1.

For the first time since Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed over from Britain to China in 1997, the city will have a leader who is not a businessperson or career civil servant, but an official with a professional background in public security.

Lee, 64, a police officer turned hardline security minister, played an integral part in cracking down on the city’s anti-government protests in 2019 and implementing a national security law imposed by Beijing. The draconian law has ended the protests while effectively eliminating most avenues for political dissent in Hong Kong, which has long enjoyed a high degree of political freedom.

Meanwhile, a Beijing official said on Friday that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, which was formulated by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s to give post-1997 Hong Kong some autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, will have to be “improved” or “fine-tuned” as time changes to ensure Hong Kong moves forward steadily.

Shen Chunyao, Beijing’s top advisor on the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, made the remark in a speech at a legal conference.

“We should not adopt a straitjacket approach. We shouldn’t think that once it’s set nothing can be changed, because if we just simplistically say that we will insist on this without being able to improve it with time, then we will not be able to fully develop its potential,” he noted.EFE


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