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Beijing loyalist security head poised to become Hong Kong chief executive

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Hong Kong Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on April 6. Photo by Lam Yik/EPA-EFE
Hong Kong Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on April 6. Photo by Lam Yik/EPA-EFE

May 6 (UPI) -- Beijing loyalist and Hong Kong security secretary John Lee is poised to become the city's new chief executive.

The official vote is on Sunday, but over half of the 1,500 people eligible to vote support Lee, who is the only candidate.

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Lee was Hong Kong's security minister during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and was sanctioned by the United States in 2020.

Sunday's vote will be conducted by a 1,500-member committee dominated by pro-Beijing political and business figures. By mid-April, Lee had 786 nominations from that committee.

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In early April, China's Liaison Office let business leaders and local politicians in Hong Kong know Lee was the only candidate backed by China's central government.

Hong's Kong's Basic Law signed by China and Britain in 1984 said, "The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures."

China expanded that committee in 2021 and added new vetting procedures to make sure only "patriots" respecting Chinese Communist Party rule could be chief executive candidates.

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When Britain put Hong Kong under Chinese rule in 1997, a "one nation, two systems" arrangement was made allowing partial autonomy.

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But in May of 2020, following the 2019 pro-democracy protests in the city, China imposed a new security law targeting pro-democracy protesters and foreign influences in Hong Kong.

Lee's selection as the chief executive cements Hong Kong's transition from partial autonomy, tightening China's grip on the city.

In a 44-page manifesto last week, Lee said as chief executive he would enact Article 23 of the Basic Law. It bans any acts of treason, sedition, subversion or secession against the Chinese central government.

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