Hong Kong’s election for Chief Executive, a role not elected through universal suffrage but rather by a body of 1,500 pro-Beijing elites, has concluded with John Lee running unopposed, winning 1,416 votes.
After the 2019 wave of protests in Hong Kong against Chinese interference in Hong Kong’s political and legal system, the central Chinese government responded by further neutering the already limited democratic institutions in Hong Kong.
This included virtually halving the number of directly elected seats in their already weak legislature, and packing it with more appointed pro-Beijing loyalists.
It also included a new vetting process for every single candidate running for the Chief Executive, Legislative Council, and Election Committee (the unelected group of elites who then choose the Chief Executive and Legislative Councilors). All candidates now must face review by the Hong Kong police force, with no appeals if rejected.
The new Chief Executive is himself a former police officer, and was appointed the Undersecretary for Security and the Secretary for Security, before his “election.” In his previous tenure, he demonstrated his credentials to Beijing as a staunch Chinese nationalist, who saw ideological opposition to absolute PRC control over Hong Kong as subversion.
Derisively nicknamed “Pikachu,” as it sounds similar to his Cantonese name “Lee Ka-chiu,” he was an instrumental figure in the passage of the Chinese extradition bill that sparked the 2019 protests. He is also still under US sanctions for his role in undermining Hong Kong’s sovereignty, and for that reason has even been banned from YouTube.
The term lasts five years, but with the tightening of Chinese NPCSC over the administration of Hong Kong, his freedom of action will likely be negligible.