Hong Kong’s John Lee Surpasses Threshold To Win Leadership Race
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s sole candidate in next month’s chief executive vote surpassed the threshold of support he needs to win, effectively confirming he’ll become the city’s next leader.
Former Chief Secretary John Lee said Wednesday that he received 786 nominations from the roughly 1,500-member Election Committee that picks the city’s leader. That number is greater than the majority he needs from the committee dominated by Beijing loyalists in the May 8 election.
“I feel encouraged by the support of the Election Committee members,” Lee said in a press conference after formally handing in his nomination. “I will try and write up my election platform as soon as possible.”
Lee, 64, stepped down from his government post last week to run for the job of his outgoing boss, Chief Executive Carrie Lam. He has spent recent days rallying support in back-to-back meetings with voters from the Election Committee’s five sectors and members of the city’s political parties.
Securing strong support from the Election Committee voters bring Lee one step closer to becoming the city’s next leader. The nomination period for the chief executive vote ends this weekend, with former police officer Lee expected to remain the only candidate with Beijing’s blessing. A candidate who obtains more than 750 valid votes will be elected.
Hong Kong’s next leader will face pressure to restore business confidence, address the city’s affordable housing crisis and craft a pandemic policy that both satisfies the international business community and shows loyalty to Beijing’s Covid Zero strategy.
Lee vowed to protect the city’s status as a global financial center and maintain its competitiveness as he formally kicked off his campaign on Saturday. “Hong Kong must maintain its character of being an international metropolis,” he said at a press briefing, without outlining specific policy plans.
Enacting Hong Kong’s own security law, Article 23, will be one of his priorities if elected, Lee said Tuesday. The bill mandated under the city’s mini-constitution bans sedition and the theft of state secrets, but has been on ice since 2003 when it triggered mass street protests. Beijing has effectively quelled dissent by imposing its own national security law on the city in 2020.
The next chief executive will take office July 1, the halfway mark in Beijing’s 50-year pledge to preserve the city’s liberal financial and political systems, which has already been eroded substantially since pro-democracy protests in 2019. No chief executive has so far managed to complete two full terms, as they struggle to satisfy both China’s demand for control and citizens’ expectations for greater freedom.
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