Explanation: A candidate for the leadership of Hong Kong emerges in an uncertain future

HONG KONG, April 4 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s deputy chief, former police officer John Lee, has announced his intention to run for the city’s top job, media reported. , which could see Beijing sign the first security chief to lead the global financial hub.

Carrie Lam, the beleaguered incumbent who has seen her popularity plummet, said on Monday she would not seek a second term, citing family considerations. Read more

Hong Kong selects a leader every five years in a process that Beijing oversees behind the scenes. Since the city fell from British to Chinese rule in 1997, there have been four chief executives, all of whom have struggled to balance the democratic aspirations of some residents with the vision of Chinese Communist Party leaders.

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The city’s 7.4 million people have no say in who rules them. The city’s leaders are chosen in a vote by an election committee made up of pro-Beijing loyalists, ensuring that Beijing approves of the decision. In a major overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system last year to meet Beijing’s demands that only “patriots” rule the city, that committee was swollen from 1,200 to 1,500 members. Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, states that full democracy is an “ultimate goal” for choosing the leader.

China’s reluctance to push forward democratic reforms has long been a lightning rod for opposition Democrats and the city’s liberal-minded citizens, fueling protest movements including the 2014 ‘Umbrella Revolution’ and pro-democracy protests in 2019.

After the recent electoral overhaul, many observers say China’s promise to allow full democracy at some point in the future will never be fulfilled.


The election was originally scheduled for March but was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in which more than a million people were infected, putting Lam under pressure.

Unlike previous times, when likely candidates signaled their intention to run months in advance, no clear favorites emerged, adding to uncertainty about the city’s future.

Chief Secretary Lee is a former Hong Kong security chief and deputy police commissioner who was known as an Anglophile during British colonial rule.

In recent years, he has forcefully enforced China’s tighter security regime – with dozens of democrats arrested, imprisoned or forced into exile, civil society groups forced to disband and liberal media raided by the police and closed.

Other potential candidates mentioned by the media include the city’s financial secretary, Paul Chan, as well as former leader Leung Chun-ying. None have announced an offer.


The election is scheduled for May 8 and the new CEO will take office on July 1. Some new CEOs have been personally sworn in by senior Chinese leaders. In 2017, on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, President Xi Jinping swore Lam.

A candidate nomination period began on Sunday and will last two weeks, with each candidate expected to secure at least 188 nominations from the 1,500-member election committee.

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Reporting by James Pomfret, Greg Torode and the Hong Kong bureau; Editing by Robert Birsel

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