With 1,416 votes, John Lee has become Hong Kong’s Chief Executive-elect. The 64-year-old was the sole candidate in the city’s first small-circle leadership race since a sweeping electoral overhaul.

Chief executive-elect John Lee. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

HKFP rounds up reactions from political parties, official bodies and overseas organisations.

China Liaison Office

Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong said that the election demonstrated the “superiority” of the overhaul and was “another step” in the administration of “patriots governing Hong Kong.”

“This election is another step in the execution of the principle of ‘patriots governing Hong Kong,’ and showed the advancement and superiority of the new electoral system, and another successful implementation in the development of democracy with Hong Kong characteristics,” a statement from the Liaison Office read.

“Mr. John Lee received a large amount of nominations and was elected with 1,416 votes. This is the solemn choice of Election Committee members, and the embodiment of the people’s opinion.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement published on Sunday that she and her administration “will ensure a seamless transition with the Chief Executive-elect.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

“The sixth-term Chief Executive Election has just been concluded smoothly. I extend my sincere congratulations to Mr John Lee on his successful election and later today, I will submit a report of the election result to the Central People’s Government,” the statement read.

“The present-term government and I will ensure a seamless transition with the Chief Executive-elect. We will render all the support needed for the assumption of office by the new term of government.”

DAB

Hong Kong’s largest pro-establishment party DAB said they hoped Lee would “attract talent” to his administration and make arrangements to implement the policies in his manifesto.

“We congratulate Mr. John Lee on his election as the sixth chief executive… We also hope that Mr. Lee and his team will value more the communication between officials and legislative councillors, and establish new relations between the administration and the legislature…”

The DAB also said that they hoped Lee would “fully consult and adopt the Legislative Council’s opinion” when drafting up policies, to ensure a “smoother policy implementation that is in line with public sentiment.”

League of Social Democrats

Pro-democracy political party the League of Social Democrats held a protest in Wan Chai on Sunday morning before polls opened.

A protest staged by the League of Social Democrats on May 8, 2022, ahead of the 2022 Chief Executive Election. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The group, including its chairperson Chan Po-ying, demanded universal suffrage, the democratisation of district politics, and opposed the legislation of Article 23 before the implementation of universal suffrage.

“John Lee rode in a lift and became the chief executive, [he] is backed by the central government, opponents gave way… apart from the central government, there are no other local mechanisms or powers to monitor and act as checks and balances to John Lee’s administration,” the group said.

New People’s Party

Chairperson of New People’s Party Regina Ip said that she believed John Lee could help improve governance.

“Congratulations to Mr. John Lee for being elected with the highest votes as the sixth chief executive. Mr. John Lee is a sincere, humble person who is willing to listen to advice, and values team work spirit, that’s very important,” Ip said in a statement on Sunday.

“I believe he can lead the SAR government to work pragmatically, and increase governance capabilities. Also, I think the new government should communicate more with political parties and district organisations, and utilise these networks to serve citizens.”

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged the chief executive-elect to “listen and respond to the public’s view, and respect Hong Kong people’s right to pursue democracy, and stop hurting Hong Kong’s freedom and human rights.”

Photo: Taiwan Office of the President, via Flickr.

“For a long period of time, Taiwan has pushed for the development of Taiwan-Hong Kong relations based on the principle of mutually beneficial and prioritising people’s welfare.”

“[We] will hold the same stance in the future to continuously push for the orderly exchange between Taiwan and Hong Kong in every area,” the statement read.

The European Union

The electoral overhaul “substantially reduced” the number of voters in the Election Committee and weakened the “already limited democratic elements in the governance of Hong Kong,” said the European Union in a statement released on Sunday afternoon.

“The European Union regrets this violation of democratic principles and political pluralism and sees this selection process as yet another step in the dismantling of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”

“The European Union attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including media freedom, democratic principles and the rule of law, in line with the Basic Law and with international commitments,” the statement read.

“The EU calls on Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to abide by their national and international commitments, notably the ultimate aim of electing the Chief Executive and members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage.”

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, in a statement released on Sunday, congratulated Lee.

Voters from the Election Committee. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Peter Wong, chairperson of the chamber, said that they “have every confidence in John Lee’s ability.”

“We have every confidence in John Lee’s ability to lead Hong Kong during this challenging time and navigate the way to a prosperous and secure future. The Chamber looks forward to working with the new Administration to help the SAR rebound from the pandemic and reinforce its position as Asia’s leading business hub,” Wong said.

Stand with Hong Kong

John Song, the spokesperson for activist group Stand with Hong Kong, called the leadership race a “sham election,” and urged “democratic countries across the world” to not recognise the race.

“The installation of John Lee is dangerous, illegitimate and undemocratic; it will strike fear into the hearts of Hongkongers. He is a figurehead for the draconian policies the Chinese Communist Party has forced upon Hong Kong in recent years.”

“All those in Hong Kong who value freedom and democracy will feel they are at increased risk as John Lee will almost certainly continue with his predecessor’s brutal policies and continue to pivot towards Beijing,” the statement released on Sunday evening read.

“Hongkongers have suffered so much in recent years. Now, in the face of blatant attempts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and institute brutal totalitarian rule, the free world must stand with Hong Kong and place sanctions on John Lee and those responsible for the oppression of human rights in the city.” 

The Campaign for Hong Kong

The founder of the US-based Campaign for Hong Kong Samuel Chu called Lee the “designated enforcer” for Beijing.

“In Lee, Beijing gets its ‘designated enforcer’ who rose through the ranks of a police force and administration that oversaw the transformation of one of the freest cities in the world into one of the most repressed,” Chu said in a statement released after Lee’s election on Sunday.

“In a city firmly in the grip of Beijing under the National Security Law, Lee was the logical selection as a leader who will prioritize the continued crackdown and repression.”

“Make no mistake – Lee is a puppet elected through a sham process who will face no political opposition, no independent and free press, and no freedom of speech, assembly, or expression. Today, John Lee won and the people of Hong Kong lost,” the statement read.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.