Hong Kong’s chief-in-waiting John Lee received a blessing from ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping the weekend after the former security chief was selected for the role in a one-horse poll earlier this month.
Xi received his nomination letter in Beijing, along with congratulations from Xi, who hailed the new “elections” system that ensures only candidates with proven political loyalty to Beijing can run.
Xi “praised Lee for his patriotism, his love for Hong Kong and his boldness in shouldering his responsibilities,” the CCP-backed Global Times newspaper reported.
Xi said Hong Kong’s new electoral system has played a decisive role in ensuring “patriots” rule Hong Kong, the newspaper reported.
News commentator Johnny Lau said the rhetoric during Lee’s trip to Beijing indicates the CCP under Xi has no intention of loosening its grip on Hong Kong.
“The removal of Hong Kong has already had a negative impact on economic growth, people’s income and employment, international trust and foreign investment,” Lau said.
“Indistinguishable from other cities in China”
Political commentator Sang Pu said the national security law and changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system were all Xi’s idea.
“The new electoral system is a matter of practical governance [from Beijing] and the ruling patriots in Hong Kong,” Sang told RFA. “It’s up to Xi Jinping alone, because Xi Jinping has made the final decision.”
“The goal is to make Hong Kong a city that is indistinguishable from other cities in China, with its special characteristics and autonomy destroyed,” he said.
Lee takes office on July, 1stthe anniversary of the 1997 transition to Chinese rule, amid speculation that Xi will travel to Hong Kong to mark the occasion.
Analysts said the one-horse poll that elected Lee as successor to incumbent Carrie Lam erased any distinction between the city and the rest of mainland China, despite promises from Beijing that Hong Kong would maintain its rights and freedoms. existing ones and move to fully democratic elections.
Lee, a former police officer who oversaw a violent crackdown on the 2019 protest movement, was ‘elected’ by a Beijing-backed committee under new rules imposed on the city to ensure only those loyal to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power can hold public office.
Ninety-nine percent of the 1,500 committee members voted for Lee, who was the only candidate on the slate.
“National Security Education”
Lee vowed to “start a new chapter” in Hong Kong, which has seen waves of massive and popular protests over the erosion of freedoms promised to the city in recent years.
He also denied that anyone had been detained or jailed for ‘crimes of expression’ under a draconian national security law imposed on the city by Beijing since July, 1st2020, despite dozens of arrests in an ongoing crackdown on rights activists, peaceful protesters and opposition politicians.
The crackdown has seen several veteran journalists, pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai and 47 former lawmakers and democracy activists charged with offenses ranging from “collusion with a foreign power” to “subversion”.
“National Security Education” – a CCP-style propaganda campaign targeting all age groups from kindergarten to college – is also mandatory under the law, while student unions and other civil society groups have disbanded, with some of their leaders recently arrested. month.
Eleven defendants, including Cantopop singer Leslie Chong, pleaded not guilty in a Hong Kong court on Monday accused of “rioting” in connection with the siege by armed riot police of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The defendants’ transit records and WhatsApp messages are used to show they traveled to nearby Yaumatei district during the siege in defiance of a police statement telling people to stay away.
Protesters converged on the neighborhood to distract riot police and support entrenched protesters inside the college campus. A video clip shown in court showed around 250 Molotov cocktails thrown at police during the clash, the prosecution told the court.
Police later arrested more than 200 people at the scene, including Chong and his 10 co-defendants, who range in age from 19 to 28 and include students, teachers and service sector workers.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants’ presence in the vicinity constituted the crime of “riot”.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.