Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee received HK$11.26 million in donations for his chief executive run, spending HK$9.13 million for his uncontested campaign. Local pro-Beijing groups and the business sector made up the majority of his donors.

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John Lee at the 2022 Chief Executive Election. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The election donations declared by Lee were made public on Monday, according to local media.

Rural group, the Heung Yee Kuk, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong and the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations all donated an identical amount of HK$300,000 each.

HK01 reported that, as Lee remains under US sanctions, he does not have a bank account and all donations would have been made in cash.

Lee, who previously served as the city’s secretary for security, was among 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury in August 2020 for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

Expenditure breakdown

According to Lee’s declaration, excess funds were donated to the Community Chest of Hong Kong.

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Chief executive candidate John Lee speaks at his campaign rally. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

The largest portion of his election expenditure was on rent, office and logistical expenses, which totalled HK$2.77 million. Of that sum, over HK$710,000 was spent on office security, exceeding the total rental cost of about HK$520,000.

Lee’s campaign team also spent HK$2.7 million on gatherings. For instance, the closed-door rally hosted two days before the small-circle election, where over 1,000 prominent local figures were in attendance, cost over HK$1.80 million.

The ex-police officer used about HK$2.37 million for election advertisements – HK$1.95 million of which was spent on Lee’s social media accounts. However, his campaign channel on YouTube was terminated by Google citing US sanctions in April. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, had also told HKFP that Lee was prevented from using its paid-for services.

Meanwhile, Lee’s personal expenditure totalled just over HK$18,000. He declared that was used for ID photos and personal portraits.

Lee’s team did not respond to HKFP’s interview requests last month.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.