HONG KONG ( Associated Press) — Outgoing Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Monday that Chinese “patriots” are now firmly in control of the city after the election of their new leader, who ran unopposed in a controlled process. from start to finish in Beijing.
Lam made his comments a day after an electoral committee, mostly pro-Beijing, voted overwhelmingly in favor of John Lee, a hardline security chief who oversaw a crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
The crackdown led to Beijing imposing a sweeping National Security Law and reshuffling the regional legislature. Subsequently, the Chinese government offensive jailed political opponents, silenced dissenting voices, and crushed organized opposition.
Appearing at a rally alongside Lee, Lam said such changes were necessary to restore order and stability in the Asian financial hub.
“I want to thank the central government again for taking resolute action when Hong Kong faced unprecedented challenges,” said Lam, who is retiring after a single five-year term as chief executive.
“He formulated the National Security Law, which helped Hong Kong move from chaos to order, and also improved Hong Kong’s electoral system so that we could achieve long-term peace and stability,” Lam added.
Lee won with more than 99% of the votes cast by the 1,500 members of the election committee.
Although China cited the need to restore order as the motivation for political change in Hong Kong, the demand that only “patriots”—defined as those loyal to the ruling Communist Party—be allowed to hold office was a central theme.
The establishment of the political system of “patriots running Hong Kong” is vital for the future of Hong Kong, Lam added.
Lee will take over from Lam on July 1, taking over a city that has seen tumultuous days of pro-democracy protests in the last five years, in 2019 the ensuing crackdown and a coronavirus outbreak that overwhelmed the health system. Hong Kong and prompted Beijing to send in doctors and build temporary facilities to enforce the quarantines.