Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee received a salary bump that would make him among the world’s highest-paid politicians, according to figures provided by his office Wednesday, even as the financial hub’s economy undergoes a downturn.

The government announced this week that its economy has tipped into a technical recession, after being battered by the pandemic, mounting interest rates and weakened global trade.

John Lee Carrie Lam
Former leader Carrie Lam with then-Chief Executive-elect John Lee. File Photo: GovHK

Despite the city’s dip in fortunes, the chief executive will still be comfortably compensated, according to figures provided by his office.

The former security chief, who assumed office in July, is paid HK$452,200 (US$58,000) a month, and will receive an entertainment allowance of over US$10,000 as well, his office told AFP Wednesday.

His salary is a step-up from that of his predecessor Carrie Lam, who used to earn around US$54,000 a month. 

This means Lee earns more than US President Joe Biden — whose annual salary is US$400,000 — and is second only to Singaporean leader Lee Hsien Loong, who nets around US$1.6 million a year.

The 64-year-old was chosen for Hong Kong’s top job earlier this year after running unopposed, with his campaign receiving around $1.4 million in donations.

Like Lam, he is also subject to sanctions by the United States for his role in China’s ongoing crackdown on freedoms in the city.

Lam once revealed she had “piles of cash” at home as she was denied banking services due to the US sanctions.

It is unclear whether Lee receives his salary in cash.

But he has on multiple occasions denounced the American sanctions as “bullying” and said he paid them no attention.

The Chinese city regularly tops the chart as one of the most expensive cities to live in, with world-beating levels of wealth inequality.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps

Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team

contribute to hkfp
2023 fund hkfp
YouTube video

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit.

contact hkfp
agence france presse

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.