Hong Kong’s second-highest ranking official John Lee has said he will strictly vet nominees for the city’s revamped election committee tasked with choosing the majority of the city’s future lawmakers and next chief executive. He vowed that only “sincere” candidates are given a seat.

Nominations for the new 1,500-member election committee began on Friday. The larger, more powerful committee was introduced as part of Beijing’s overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral processes. The move reduces democratic representation in the city, though the authorities say it was necessary to ensure “patriots” rule Hong Kong.

John Lee. File photo: GovHK.

Lee, who heads a separate, seven-person committee tasked with vetting candidates for the election committee, told Sing Tao that he will strictly vet each candidate’s past to ensure they “sincerely support” the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the city.

He added that candidates will be expected to “defend and believe in” the upholding of the Basic Law and swearing allegiance to the government.

Things that will be considered in the vetting process include their past words and deeds, what they have said in media interviews or articles, as well as previous interactions and dealings.

The former security chief said the exercise was not to target candidates who have criticised the government, but to identify those who are a threat to national security.

The committee is expected to report its vetting decisions on August 26.