John Lee has been confirmed as Hong Kong’s subsequent chief government following a marketing campaign that critics labelled as absurd after Beijing backed his candidacy and nobody else ran for election.
Lee, the town’s former safety minister and an ex-policeman, obtained greater than 1,416 votes on Sunday from the 1,461-member “patriots solely” choice committee comprised of principally pro-Beijing politicians and businesspeople that represents 0.02 per cent of the town’s 7.4mn inhabitants. Simply eight votes have been recorded in opposition to Lee’s appointment.
“We will all fortunately embrace this very historic day,” Lee informed supporters after the outcomes have been introduced.
The overwhelming majority of the town’s political opposition are both in jail or have fled the town after Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety regulation in wake of the 2019 pro-democracy protests. The measure has been used to crack down on people and organisations deemed disloyal to the federal government.
However authorities nonetheless tried to promote the brand new chief to the town’s residents, whose voting energy had been steadily disenfranchised by Beijing-led political reforms.
The newest overhaul in 2021 was dubbed “patriots ruling Hong Kong”, and led to the introduction of a vetting course of for all candidates and diminished the variety of immediately elected lawmakers within the metropolis’s legislative meeting.
Hundreds of banners and different promotional supplies for Lee’s marketing campaign have been splashed throughout the town forward of Sunday’s vote, and native authorities allotted greater than HK$220mn (US$28mn) for the method, although his anointment by the central authorities was assured.
In earlier elections, Beijing has signalled its choice for a candidate however allowed rivals to run, typically attracting votes from Hong Kong’s enterprise elite.
“[Lee] goes to be endorsed anyway. So you might say that it is a waste of money and time,” stated John P Burns, an emeritus professor in politics and public administration on the College of Hong Kong. “There’s a sense of unrealness to it, and absurdity.”
Ho-Fung Hung, affiliate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins College who research Hong Kong’s politics, stated the election was a charade. “Now there is no such thing as a competitor, it’s a pure facade now,” he stated.
However political analyst Sonny Lo stated it was vital for Beijing to undergo with the method of an election. “Beijing cares concerning the legitimacy of this election because it symbolises the realisation of a Hong Kong-style of democracy,” he stated.
Lee, 64, made a handful of choreographed marketing campaign visits with pre-selected households in outdated tenement buildings and held a rally on Friday that members of the general public weren’t allowed to attend. His marketing campaign, which has a chosen workplace, beforehand held a televised discussion board with no dwell viewers.
Lau Siu-kai, a Beijing adviser and vice-president of the Chinese language Affiliation of Hong Kong and Macao Research, a semi-official think-tank, dismissed criticism of the “patriotic” management choice course of. The excessive voting turnout and endorsement price for Lee “mirrored a excessive diploma of unity amongst patriots”, he stated.
“[Beijing] has by no means stated that democratisation is the foremost choice,” he stated. “The method can be useful to [reassure the central government] that Hong Kong won’t change into a nationwide safety risk.”
Native companies and property tycoons are eager for Lee to revive Hong Kong’s pandemic-hit economic system after the town recorded a worse than anticipated 4 per cent contraction in gross home product within the first quarter of the yr in contrast with identical interval in 2021.
“If we don’t loosen [Covid] restrictions when different locations within the area are stress-free them . . . our economic system will be unable to get well in a protracted, very long time,” stated Stewart Leung, vice chair of actual property conglomerate Wheelock Properties.
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