John Lee has emerged victorious in this year's Hong Kong Chief Executive elections and will now be the country's new leader. He was the only candidate in the closed voting process and will succeed outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
As a former security chief, 64-year-old Lee is also identified as a Beijing loyalist. Around 1,500 members of a mostly Pro-Chinese election committee took part in a brief secret ballot and Lee won with a clear majority of 1,416 votes.
According to the Guardian, Beijing hailed the near-unanimous result, saying it showed Hong Kong society's recognition and approval for Lee. The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office stated, "this is a real demonstration of democratic spirit."
As one of the two special administrative regions of China, Hong Kong follows the "one country, two systems" framework with limited election rights and a largely separate legal and economic system.
In accordance with the Basic Law, which consists of the aforementioned principle, the selection process of the Chief Executive can only be done by "universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee," which is the central Chinese government therefore, in a way Hong Kong has never really been a democracy, as per BBC reports.
Endorsed by pro-Beijing elites, Lee's victory is also believed to be a part of the Chinese masterplan to secure its loosening hold on the administrative region, especially considering the 2019 pro-democracy protests, the violent repression of which was sometimes supervised by Lee.
The pro-democracy protests focused on the proposed legislation of the extradition bill which stated that in some special cases criminal suspects could be extradited in China, this could have resulted in Hong King citizens being subjected to unfair trials and also serious maltreatment if the bill was passed.
In these protests, Lee was also in the lime light however, it was all for negative reasons. The most popular were his continuous support to the extradition bill and his implementation of a national security law that banned most forms of political dissent and protests. He, along with 11 other Hong Kong and Beijing officials, were sanctioned by the US for imposing the law.
Before the opening of the polls on Sunday, the only remaining pro-democracy group, the League of Social Democrats, organized a three-person protest chanting "Power to the people, universal suffrage now". One of the protester Vanessa Chan was recorded saying, "This is what John Lee's new chapter looks like â a shrinking of our civil liberties."
She added further: "We know this action will have no effect, but we don't want Hong Kong to be completely silent." This points towards the apparent resentment of the Hong Kong citizenry on the unjust suppression of the democracy movement.
As per CNBC reports, when the election results were out Lee was asked in a press conference, if his performance will be "challenged by the lack of electoral mandate and legitimacy in the eyes of some people," to which he replied that the election was conducted in accordance with Hong Kong laws, "anybody, who according to the law is qualified, can take part and run for the election."
With reference to his clear majority, he said, "that number of support encourages me and gives me the strong confidence that my direction is agreed and shared by a lot of election committee members."
With the Slogan," starting a new chapter for Hong Kong together", the new leader of Hong Kong promises for a "result-oriented" governance combined with solidarity and a revised economic infrastructure for the country. Lee will assume office on 1 July, on the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain.